Huston Simmons DonorAs a young student at St. Albans, Huston Simmons '57 often felt a sense of relief. The son of a foreign service officer, Simmons had changed schools almost every year of his academic life until he came to the Close in 1950 as an A Former. To Simmons, St. Albans felt solid, a true institution. "I remember Mr. True greeting us every morning," Simmons recalls. "It felt nice to know I was going to stay."

Today, Huston Simmons '57 is helping other students attend the School through a charitable gift annuity to St. Albans. The annuity involves a transfer of cash to the School in exchange for a tax deduction and a fixed income for life. "I wish I had sons to go to St. Albans," Simmons responds with a laugh, when asked why he supports the School. He adds: "I give so that other people's sons can go there and have the same experience I had."

"For me, St. Alban was a time when things were clear. We had a schedule. We had Canon Martin telling us what to do. I believe it's important for adolescents to have a clear path set out in front of them, and I felt I had that at St. Albans."

At St. Albans, Simmons kept busy, participating in Glee Club, Government Club, Religious Club, Dance Committee, and Dramatics Club; reporting for and editing the Saint Albans News; and serving as a prefect and a Cathedral server. He played soccer and football and ran track, eventually settling on golf as his preferred sport. Among the "special interests" listed on his yearbook page, music and journalism became increasingly important in his life.

Says Simmons, "I hadn't been a singer at all, and when classmates Andrew Waldrop and David Austern told me, 'You have to join Glee Club,' I said, 'No'—a typical teenage response. When I did join, I just loved it. Our director, Wayne Dirksen cared so much about how the music sounded. He could explain music, what he felt, in words. I'll never forget how he not only taught but embodied passionate commitment."

Simmons began working as a reporter on the Saint Albans News in 1954. In 1956, he was named editor-in-chief, succeeding Jonathan Friendly '56. "They announced it in the News like it was an award. They hadn't even asked me!"

After St. Albans, Simmons attended Princeton, from which he graduated in 1961. Although he had grown up "almost bilingual" with English and Spanish, he majored in French. "I had never studied French before college. I fell in love with the language and the way you can express things in French that you can't in other languages." Even today he slips into French when conversing with his daughters, Julie and Sophie. (Simmons's first wife, their mother, is French, as is his current wife, soprano Gaële Le Roi.) At Princeton, he continued to sing, with the college Glee Club.

Simmons went on to become a documentary filmmaker. His career began at NBC, as a page. Says Simmons: "I remember [history teacher and Assistant Headmaster] John Davis, who hadn't seen me since I had left for Princeton, coming for a tour of NBC one day, catching sight of me in my braced uniform, and saying, "Oh, no, Simmons, WHAT are you doing?"

One of his first projects was to research the Inter-American Highway. He drove the route, from Laredo, Texas, to Panama City, scouting locations, and then later returned with a crew for filming.

In the early 1970s, Simmons produced television commercials. By the 1980s, he had returned to NBC and filmmaking. He won a Peabody award for "Whatever Happened to El Salvador," which he produced for a Frontline series on Central America; and he wrote and produced a film on early-20th-century forces that shaped Mexico. A member of the Cathedral Choral Society, he helped the group celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1992 by creating a half-hour documentary, Music in a Grand Space: 50 Years of the Washington Cathedral Choral Society, for local public television stations.

"I appreciated the licenses that a filmmaker's badge gave me to see life I would otherwise never have experienced," says Simmons. "There were times as I was meeting with guerrillas in Central America, setting up interviews with swindlers, or dodging bulls in Spain, camera in hand, when I asked myself: 'Is this the best life for a somewhat proper St. Albans graduate?'" His answer: Yes.

Despite-or perhaps because of-his extensive travels for work, Simmons in retirement remains close friends with several St. Albans classmates. At least once a month, he lunches with David Austern '57, Bill Gray '57, Henry Hilken '57, Jerry Olmsted '57, Andy Waldrop '57, and Porter Shreve '57. "We go back in time and are 17-year-olds for an hour. We talk about military service—an important part of all our lives—and cars and girls. We also talk about our outstanding teachers. We remain grateful for Mr. Davis (yes, we still say 'Mr.'), Mr. Ruge, Doc Arnds, and Mr. Smith—teachers who demanded so much of us."

In the spring of their senior year at St. Albans, News Editorial Editor Andrew Waldrop wrote a tribute to his out-going editor-in chief. Waldrop admired Simmons as a singer, a Government Club member, a prefect who proved you did not have to be an athlete to get elected to school office, and a News editor who never missed a deadline. "What we of the 'News' will probably most remember is Huston's willingness to help others," wrote Waldrop. "There has never been an occasion when Huston has not done his level best to help others in a jam." St. Albans thanks Huston Simmons for continuing to do his level best to help others at St. Albans through his charitable gift annuity.

We are sad to report that Huston Simmons '57 passed on November 10, 2013.