We lost a great sumpdiver, and caver

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We lost a great sumpdiver, and caver

Postby FW » Feb 16, 2007 10:14 am

Any opinions are personal.
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Postby Buford Pruitt » Feb 16, 2007 10:42 am

I had a long talk this morning with Mark Long, the person who retrieved Ron Simmons body last night. I expect that a full account of the incident will be written and published by Mark fairly soon.

The corpse was found beyond two serious restrictions on Mark’s second dive attempt to find the remains. Mark said that if Ron had been beyond a third, even gnarlier restriction, extricating the body might have been impossible. Ron was known as a digger and a finder of significant additional passages; indeed, he had lengthened the known extent of Allen’s Millpond Spring Cave from approximately 650 ft by another 1000 ft in 43 dives there. He once remarked to me that Florida’s cave divers weren’t really interested in digging, and therefore there was a lot more underwater cave to be found in “walled out” underwater Florida caves.

His two tanks were empty and his regulators were functioning, but he was snarled in line that had slipped off his reel. Jerry Murphy has possession of both Ron’s dive computers and is to download and analyze their data. The Sheriff’s office has possession of his regulators.

Ron never married and had no children. His parents were deceased but he is survived by two brothers. He had many friends in Florida’s caving and cave diving communities, and I expect there will be a memorial service down here possibly in addition to one in Virginia where he lived. He was 52 years old and only a year away from full retirement. He was the inventor of the Simmons Roller and for years was the main supplier of aluminum double-tank backmount plates. He was a well-known caver when I first started caving in the early 1970s, and had expedition caved all over the world.

I last saw him at Sleazeweasel's Anti-Santa party in Gainesville FL this past December. He seemed to be in good spirits as we chatted around the campfire. I only caved with him once, ironically with Roberta Swicegood in Blacksmoke Cave (along with Tom Morris). We Floridians who knew him liked him and respected his accomplishments enormously, and are greatly saddened by this loss. Our condolences go out to his Virginia and West Virginia caving buddies.
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Ron Simmons

Postby caverdoc » Feb 16, 2007 10:50 am

I remember Ron from a trip to Flower Pot in the late '70s at OTR. We were downstream looking at the flood debris in the ceiling of the walking-height passage when it occured to us that rain was in the forecast. We beat feat back up the drops as the rain began! Another time I stopped by to visit him in Charlottesville and he was bummed out b/c he was going to be evicted through no fault of his own...his roomate had a wild party while Ron was out caving in West Virginia.
While a pre-med in Baltimore I was going to sherpa tanks for him on a dive in Friars Hole but ended up spraining my knee and missing the trip.
This past Convention in Bellingham I enjoyed catching up with Ron since I hadn't talked with him in years. He was always such a positive influence in the caving world, whether you met him once, caved with him all the time or, like me, had the memories of a couple trips that were special for one reason or the other.
He leaves a large void in the caving and diving community.
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Postby Hazel » Feb 16, 2007 11:42 am

I'm devastated. Ron was the kind of person you looked to as reassurance that, if you knew what you were doing, you'd be OK.

Gonna miss you dude!

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Postby cadyasoukup » Feb 16, 2007 2:19 pm

Hard, bad news indeed -

Ron was a great caver (who did not suffer fools), a great mapper and hard-core explorer, a perfectionist 'live-action' photographer, an inspired dancer & party-er, an inspiration and a faithful friend. He also cut a great figure in a wet suit and had a devastatingly wicked sense of humor.

wailing & gnashing of teeth - this is hard -

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Postby NICKSCAVE » Feb 16, 2007 4:36 pm

Sad news, Ron was a terrific person. I had never met Ron untill last summer at powell mountain , but I had certianly heard of him and read countless stories of his dives for years before meeting him. Ron was completly devoid of the (my name is in the news syndrome) that a lot of big name cavers have. The first time I met him, He said "hi, I'm Ron. Nice to meet you" and then gave me my first wetsuit, and then we all sat around the fire listening to his stories. What a wonderfull person indeed. He will be missed by everyone who ever met him.God bless you Ron....Nick
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Postby tagcaving » Feb 16, 2007 9:02 pm

Ron was great person and a great caver. This is a huge loss for our community. Cave lights all across the country will be a lot dimmer this weekend, knowing a great caver such as Ron has passed. He died doing what he loved, cave diving, pushing the limits of what there is to find out there. Just imagine Ron is now free of the physical world and pushing every passage there is to explore for evermore. :scuba:
To The Bitter End,
Andy Porter, 26258FERL

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Postby Don Feathers » Feb 16, 2007 9:15 pm

What a shocker! I just read this and it sure ruined my day. He was such a great, personable guy. So many people in my grotto were good friends with Ron. We'll sure miss him.
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Postby Herman Miller » Feb 16, 2007 9:32 pm

tagcaving wrote:Ron was great person and a great caver. This is a huge loss for our community. Cave lights all across the country will be a lot dimmer this weekend, knowing a great caver such as Ron has passed. He died doing what he loved, cave diving, pushing the limits of what there is to find out there. Just imagine Ron is now free of the physical world and pushing every passage there is to explore for evermore. :scuba:

I never had the pleasure of meeting ron but from reading what people have said im sure this is exactly what hes doing now
Herman Miller NSS# 55273SU BOG Candidate 2010, 2012
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Postby Buford Pruitt » Feb 16, 2007 10:03 pm

Celebration of the Life of Ron Simmons
Allen Mill Pond Spring
Sunday, February 18, 2007
3:00 p.m. Gathering of Friends
4:00 p.m. Ceremony of Remembrance

You are invited to join the cave diving community and friends of Ron Simmons to celebrate his life and accomplishments. The gathering and short ceremony will be held at Allen Mill Pond Spring in the beautiful wooded area by the spring run.

Ron was a follower of the Buddhist faith, and to respect those traditions we will encourage the community to come together and share stories and positive experiences from their life with Ron.

Please dress warm and casual with good shoes to enjoy the stunning natural surroundings at this pristine spring. A bonfire will follow the ceremony, so a lawn chair would be appropriate. There are no facilities in the area of the spring.

Please contact Terri and Wes Skiles 386-454-2469 or Jill Heinerth 386-454-4497 for details or questions.

Directions: From downtown Mayo, Florida travel northwest on Highway 27 for approximately 5 miles. Turn right at County Road 251 B where you will see a sign directing you towards Lafayette Blue Spring. Travel north for approximately 5 miles and go past the main entrance to Allen Mill Pond recreation area. Just north of the main entrance the road curves left but you will see a dirt road that continues due north. Stop at that junction and park on the side of the road. Follow the signs and ribbons down to the spring.

Jill Heinerth
Heinerth Productions Inc.
5989 NE County Road 340
High Springs, Fl 32643
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Postby MoonshineR DavE » Feb 16, 2007 11:04 pm

I never knew Ron but it's still sad to hear this news. He sounds like a wonderful person and to all that knew him you are in my thoughts.
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Postby chinacave » Feb 17, 2007 8:15 pm

-Sigh. Sh*t, I just don't know what to say or think.

Ron was.... IS one of, the most honest, genuine, unique, remarkable, outspoken, memorable persons I have ever met and caved with.

I will miss you.

Rest In peace, my friend.

We are all richer in life from knowing you.

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Postby Komebeaux » Feb 19, 2007 11:07 am

I don't have much to add to this, having never met nor known Mr. Simmons. However, I knew of him and know that he was thoughy of very highly by those that did know him.
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Postby Cheryl Jones » Feb 19, 2007 10:22 pm

The official report of Ron's death. http://iucrr.org/aa.htm

Click Accident Reports. Then click "February 14, 2007 - Allen Mill Pond, Lafayette County, FL"

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Funeral for Ron Simmons arranged by his family

Postby Andrea Futrell » Feb 20, 2007 9:04 am

Ron's brothers have arranged calling hours and a funeral for Ron.

Henry Funeral Home Chapel
Staunton, Virginia

Calling hours
Thursday, February 22
7:00 - 8:30 pm

Friday, February 23
2:00 pm

Henry Funeral Home, Inc.
1030 West Beverley Street
P. O. Box 1076
Staunton, Virginia 24401
Phone: 540-885-7211
Fax: 540-885-4440

The family's obituary for Ron is at:
Click on Ronald Simmons.

We will have our "caving" celebration of Ron's life on June 2 in Virginia. However, we think it would be great for Ron's brothers to see how many people love Ron. Come to Staunton this week if you can. If you cannot come, send the family a note on the funeral home web site at http://www.henryfuneralhome.net/index.cfm. Click on Ronald Simmons, and then click on Sign Guest Book.

Andrea and Mike Futrell
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