Jimi Simmons, 59, of Los Altos, CA, died April 13, 2011. Born November 19, 1951, in Oregon, he was a proud member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Oregon. His mother, Maria Daniels Simmons, was a member of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe; his father, Edgar Simmons, was the Tribal Chairman of Grand Ronde.
Jimi was a retired journeyman of the Operating Engineers, Local 3. He became a film producer and partner in Two Rivers Circle, LLP. Jimi was a sponsor of The American Indian Film Festival and many other indigenous organizations. He put several students through undergraduate and graduate school because he believed in the power of education to change lives and communities. Having grown up as a foster child, he supported programs for foster youth, and he continued to speak out in support of freedom of religion for Native American prisoners. He believed in the Good Red Road.
In 1979, Jimi and his brother George were accused of murdering a prison guard at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. They were charged with the death penalty. Jimi was defended by attorney Leonard Weinglass, and he eventually proved his innocence with the help of the Simmons Brothers Defense Committee. The trial and Jimi’s life are documented in the film “Making the River.”
Jimi is survived by his wife, Karen Rudolph; their sons, Arthur and Jay; sister, Renee; brothers, Frank, Tyrone, Robert, and Joe Simmons and John Stevenson. Jimi is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and in-laws.
Services will be held at the Grand Ronde Achfa-hammi at 11 a.m. on April 26, 2011. A memorial service will be held at Christ Episcopal Church in Los Altos, CA, at 1 p.m. on May 5, 2011.
Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be sent to The Bill Wilson Center, 3490 The Alameda, Santa Clara, CA 95050, and the Intertribal Friendship House, 523 International Blvd., Oakland, CA 94606.