The Peoria community is paying respect to Notre Dame High School principal Randy Simmons, who was found dead Tuesday afternoon.
Randy Simmons was more than just the principal at Peoria Notre Dame. He was a family man, a leader, a coach, and a friend. Simmons will be forever known by his servant heart, and his care for others.
“He’s just a good person. One of the finest individuals I’ve ever met. Him and his wife both,” said Brad Zevnik, who is a social studies teacher at Peoria High School.
At one point, the well-known Peoria educator coached baseball at Manual Academy, where Richwoods Principal Brett Elliott was one of his players.
“When you look at an educator like Randy, he was a coach. He was a coach through and through. The thousands and thousands of lives that he contributed to in a positive way. Adults, many of them now adults, many of them were adults, whether he was coaching with them, teaching with them,” said Elliott.
Part of Simmons’ legacy is the positive impact he left on thousands of people in the Greater Peoria Area.
“He dedicated his whole life to serving other people. The students, the community, and all that other stuff. If you can learn anything from him, it’s the importance of taking care of each other,” said Zevnik.
“He knew the kids by name, and just that relationship. That’s what we preach here, and that really came from just having him as a mentor,” said Elliott.
Simmons hired Brad Zevnik at Peoria High ten years ago. Zevnik says Simmons always cared for him and his famil.
“We went to a basketball game and it happened to be my son’s 7th birthday. He told Randy, ‘Mr. Simmons, it’s my birthday today!’ Mr. Simmons said ‘how old are you?’ ‘Seven.’ Randy reached into his pocket and pulled out seven dollars and said ‘happy birthday,'” said Zevnik.
Simmons became principal in 2014 and was named Distinguished Principal of the Year by the Office of Catholic Schools.
The Peoria native graduated from Bradley University with a Bachelors in Education. He also recieved a masters in education from the school; he also has a Masters in Athletic Administration from ISU.
Simmons spent decades serving students.
A letter from Bishop Daniel Jenky to the Notre Dame community expressed sorrow and condolences, saying that that “Mr. Simmons loved the holy Mass and would want us to come together to grieve his loss and hear the message of our Lord’s loving assistance and peace.”
Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said Simmons was found in his home on Avalaon Place and how he died is not being released.