Virgil L. Simmons

virgil simmons
Virgil Leon Simmons, 81, a retired physicist and aeronautical engineer, died Thursday, September 22, 2011, in New Braunfels, Texas. Born in Seagoville on January 18, 1930, he lived in Dallas and Austin prior to moving to New Braunfels with his wife, Gayle Campbell Simmons. Virgil's career spanned critical periods in America's post-war and aviation history. He received his B.S. in physics and electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1951. Upon graduation, he served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force stationed in Alaska and served as the Commanding Officer of the second Radar Dome erected by the United States Air Force. After an honorable discharge, he began his engineering career at Texas Instruments, and progressed from positions in engineering to program management, and then, international marketing. He was part of the TI team that built and marketed the first silicon transistors in 1954, the basis for today's computer chips and electronic devices. Virgil worked on the F-111 terrain-following radar system, developed by TI to protect low flying aircraft from surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles and to evade enemy radar. A dedicated pilot, his aviation and aerospace career began with his certification by a flight instructor who was certified by Orville Wright and later included work in TI's extensive aerospace programs. Virgil joined Tracor, Inc., a diversified aerospace company, in 1975, and later became its Vice President International Division. In 1988, he was named by the Secretary of Defense as one of the seven U.S. members of the NATO Industrial Advisory Group in Brussels. In 1995, Virgil was one of the founders of International Isotopes, Inc., which purchased the Texas Superconducting Super Collider for use in the development and manufacture of radioactive isotopes for diagnostic and therapeutic medical uses. Virgil's humor, intelligence and strong, life-long belief in the best nature of others will be dearly missed by his family and friends. His life and memory will be cherished by his many friends and his family: his wife, Gayle and his stepdaughter Pattie Schmidt, her husband, Karl Schmidt, and their children, Karl Jr., Josef and Kathleen, of Houston; his children with the late Margaret Simmons Fitzwilliam, of Dallas: David Simmons, Ann Simmons and her husband, George Jost, of St. Louis, and Connie Simmons and her husband, James Krugman, of New York City; his step-children with the late Gleva Kanz Simmons, of Austin: Kyla Kanz and her daughter, Harper, of Austin; Kevin Kanz and his children, Zak and Zoe, of Austin; and Kollyn Kanz and her husband, Daniel Cody, of Santa Monica. A celebration service for Virgil will be held at Unity Church of the Hills, Austin, at 2:00 pm on Saturday October 1, 2011. His family is grateful for all of the support and love given to Virgil. In lieu of flowers, any gifts that may be made in his memory may be given in support of Smile Train, Inc.

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