[May 10, 2017]
Simmer, William Leonard; 1929-2015
3 Reels of Audio Tape
Birth Date: October 2, 1928
Birthplace: Ottumwa, Iowa; grew up in Des Moines, Iowa
Death Date: February 22, 2015 in Forest, Virginia
Parents: Alfred and Florence Robbins Simmer
Siblings: Stan, Larry, Roger, Wanda
Marital status: Married to Helen Mylem (sp?)
Children: Cathy, Charlotte, William
Conversion: 1953 in Virginia
Denominational affiliation: Baptist
1959-1963 Washington Bible College
Bible correspondence courses especially for prisoners
1970-1971 Developed graduate level course in prison chaplaincy
1946-1952 Air Force: Air Traffic Supervisor
1952-1954 Manager of a dime store
1954-1955 Manager of another dime store
1953-1955 Sold televisions
1956-1959 Home improvement, insurance, real estate in Boston, MA
1961-1983 Founder and President of Good News Mission
1974-1976 Executive Director, National Jail Association
1983- President Emeritus of Good News Jail and Prison Ministries
President, International College, Honolulu, Hawaii
Scope and Content
William Leonard Simmer was interviewed by Robert Shuster on June 21, 1991. The events described in the interview cover the time period 1930s to 1991.
T1 (70 minutes). Childhood in Des Moines, family, ambitions, heroes, lack of church involvement; joined the United States Air Force in 1946, training, learned to fly as cover for special activities; met wife when he taught flight attendants, marriage to Helen Mylem (sp?), moved to Virginia and attended Ringgold Baptist Church, where he accepted Christ in 1953; effects of conversion; the move to Boston, Massachusetts; owned three businesses there; call to the ministry; impact of the gospel, especially the book of Romans; first sermon and first convert during student days at Washington Bible College; found ethics lacking in both ministers and Christian lay persons
T2 (70 minutes). Continuation on the importance of ethics; lack of commitment for prison ministries; influence of Oswald J. Smith; need for world view as a Christian; started prison ministry in Fairfax County, Virginia; influence of courses and professors at Washington (DC) Bible College, as well as such people as Frank Gaebelein, Carl Henry, W. A. Criswell; circumstances surrounding beginning of work in Fairfax Prison; recruited other students to help in prisons; began Good News Mission; first impressions of prisons; trained prisoners to catalog books and began libraries; began first work-release program; counseling; developed Bible study courses; one-on-one discipling; discipling of Harry Green, now president of Good News; changes in prisoners since work first started; social changes; stories of conversions, Christian workers, and law enforcement people
T3 (65 minutes). Incorporation of Good News, the Board of Trustees; goals of organization, fund raising; rehabilitation; stories about different approaches to prisoners; desired qualities of chaplains; expansion of Good News Mission into surrounding areas, Hawaii; work with women's prison; difference between county jails and federal prisons; crisis intervention and counseling; reasons for work-release programs; half-way houses; Christian church groups involved in prison ministry; description of Grady Wilson; participation as counselor in the 1960 Washington, DC, Billy Graham Crusade.
The materials in this collection were given to the Graham Center Archives by William Simmer in June 1991.
April 14, 1997
Janyce H. Nasgowitz
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items are filed in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:
T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, one side only, approx. 70 minutes. Interview of William Leonard Simmer by Robert Shuster on June 21, 1991, at the offices of the Archives of the Billy Graham Center.
T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, one side only, approx. 70 minutes. Interview of William Leonard Simmer by Robert Shuster on June 21, 1991, at the offices of the Archives of the Billy Graham Center.
T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, one side only, approx. 65 minutes. Interview of William Leonard Simmer by Robert Shuster on June 21, 1991, at the offices of the Archives of the Billy Graham Center.