Anthony (Tony) Paul Simkus, Sr. was born in Chicago on September 20, 1931, the son of Stanley and Vera Simkus. His family included two brothers, Stan and Bill, and one sister, Bernice. All three siblings have preceded Mr. Simkus in death, and a joyous reunion is certainly already underway in Heaven. Mr. Simkus began his education at Iowa State Teachers College in 1949 after graduation from Lake View High School, but his college graduation would be delayed by several years. The first delay for college graduation was the product of a talent for playing the rough game of football in the tail end of the old leather helmet days, coupled...
Anthony (Tony) Paul Simkus, Sr. was born in Chicago on September 20, 1931, the son of Stanley and Vera Simkus. His family included two brothers, Stan and Bill, and one sister, Bernice. All three siblings have preceded Mr. Simkus in death, and a joyous reunion is certainly already underway in Heaven.
Mr. Simkus began his education at Iowa State Teachers College in 1949 after graduation from Lake View High School, but his college graduation would be delayed by several years.
The first delay for college graduation was the product of a talent for playing the rough game of football in the tail end of the old leather helmet days, coupled with a fascination with the Chicago Bears, the Monsters of the Midway, and their legacy 1930s headliners, Bronko Nagurski and Red Grange in the 1930s, followed by Sid Luckman and the T-formation in the 1940s. Mr. Simkus played for the Bears for one year in 1950.
The second delay for college graduation was Mr. Simkus enlistment into the U.S. Army in March 1951, nine months after the invasion of South Korea by North Korea communist forces, very soon after the Communist Chinese enter the war, and at about the same time that General MacArthur advocates full unreserved response against the Chinese to Congress… getting recalled by President Truman for doing so. After completing basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri, Mr. Simkus graduated from Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Ft. Riley, Kansas and Chemical Corps training at Fort McClellan in Alabama. He is then dispatched to South Korea, coincidentally running into his brother at the port of Pusan, with his brother leaving the country as Mr. Simkus was entering. Mr. Simkus served in the front lines in Korea with the 40th and 45th Divisions of the 8th Army, and with the 12th Republic of Korea Division. He found himself fighting at the top of a non-descript hill in South Korea, surrounded by Communist Chinese, when word of the signing of the Armistice was broadcast to all combatants in July of 1953. Mr. Simkus and the remaining members of his company marched off that hill to safety through enemy lines, only to be sent back into action once the peace talks broke down. Mr. Simkus was awarded the Bronze Star for combat action as a First Lieutenant "for meritorious achievement in ground operations against the enemy 13 May 1953 to 29 April 1954" – Bronze Star citation 4/18/67.
Mr. Simkus completed his undergraduate college education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and his graduate college education with a Masters Degree in Operations Analysis and Research at Tulane University in New Orleans.
During the years between Korea and Vietnam, Mr. Simkus achieved the rank of Captain, and was assigned to the 81st Chemical Group at Ft. Bragg for parachute and Special Forces training, and to the Technical Escort Unit in Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, trained in explosive ordinance disposal.
It was during this time that Mr. Simkus met his wife, Margaret Brunson, while visiting Meredith College in Raleigh from his posting at Fort Bragg, having walked into the reception hall of Meredith College "looking for a date". Many months of dating later, with visits to the Brunson family home, under the intense scrutiny of southern parents in Florence, South Carolina, Tony and Margaret married on 3 March 1956. Their first child, daughter Meg, was born in July 1957 at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, and their second child, son Tony, was born in January 1959 at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland. A three-year posting to Germany followed soon thereafter, followed by postings in New Jersey, Nebraska, Alabama, Louisiana, Virginia, Kansas, and North Carolina.
Mr. Simkus had two tours of service in Vietnam, first as a Lieutenant Colonel assigned to interview the front line troops concerning the effectiveness of various ammunition and ordinance then in use, in all four Corps Tactical Zones. It was here that Mr. Simkus earned the nickname "the Crazy Colonel" while serving with the 5th Special Forces Group. During the second tour, as a Colonel, Mr. Simkus worked in the native villages to assist in the tracking of Viet Cong troop movements.
Mr. Simkus retired from the U.S. Army as Commander of the Army Research Office in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina in 1980.
Mr. Simkus was awarded the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with palm, three Army Commendation Medals, two Unit Citation Awards, and the Joint Services Commendation Medal.
Upon retiring from the Army, Mr. Simkus decided to become a stock broker, studying for the broker's exam in New York City, passing that exam, and embarking on a second career which ended with his becoming a vice-president at Dean Witter. After leaving that career, he became an Operations Research consultant, completing many assignments looking for ways to improve company profits around the country.
Mr. Simkus was a long-time member of Highland United Methodist Church, loved and remembered by the congregation as the number one church league softball booster and fan, the number one unofficial greeter of all who entered the sanctuary, and an oft-times participant in lively discussion in Sunday School.
Towards the end of his life, Mr. Simkus was declared disabled from the effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam, suffering from Parkinson's disease. He suffered three strokes in 2012 which slowed him down, but did not knock him out. His caretakers during the last 16 months of his life are among his most ardent supporters, and certainly became a cherished part of the family. Thank you: Lizzie, Brenda, Andrea, Angela, Faye, and Nicole. We love you!
Mr. Simkus died peacefully at home at 5pm on 11 April 2014, surrounded by his loving family and caretakers, made whole in the presence of his Loving Father, with certain assurance of an eternity of love and peace.
His graveside service will be a private family gathering at Raleigh Memorial Park the morning of Wednesday 16 April 2014, followed by a memorial service and reception at Highland UMC on Ridge Road at 2pm.
The family requests that any gifts or donations be made in Mr. Simkus memory to Parkinson's Research or to Highland United Methodist Church on Ridge Road.