Sir Ira Marcus Simmons, ISO, MBE
Former Governor of Saint Lucia
St. Lucia’s second native Governor was Sir Ira Simmons, a former civil servant who retired from the service in April, 1971. Upon the retirement of Sir Frederick Clarke in September 1971, Sir Ira Simmons acted as Governor. Prior to his appointment as Acting Governor in 1971, he had served twice as Governor’s deputy.
Early life and education
Born on 17 March 1917, Sir Ira Simmons attained his early education at the Castries Methodist School and after being awarded a Government scholarship he attended the St. Mary’s College in 1928. Six years later, upon completion, he joined the teaching profession and was awarded the St. Lucia Teacher’s Certificate of Competence, First Class, as the most outstanding teacher for that year.
Sir Ira Simmons attended the Trinidad Government Teachers’ Training College for a period of two years after which he rejoined the staff of the Castries Methodist School in 1938. He served there until 1944. He joined the civil service as a third class clerk in his department. In 1949 he was appointed Assistant Labour Commissioner. Prior to the aforementioned appointment, he was made officer-in-charge of displaced persons following the disastrous Castries fire in 1948.
In 1953, he was awarded the Coronation Medal and spent several months in Washington as a liaison officer for the British West Indies Central Labour Organization while holding the post of Labour Commissioner from 1955 to 1958. Sir Ira Simmons was appointed to act as Principal Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Production in 1958 and later became its Permanent Secretary with the introduction of a new constitution in 1960. In 1963, he was transferred to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour.
Honours and awards
He was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1967, of the Imperial Service Order (ISO) in 1971 and was admitted as Commander (brother) of the Order of St. John in 1972. Sir Ira was an honorary Jaycee, Local Chief Scout, Patron of the Ex – Services League, President of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme and the President of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade.
Sir Ira Simmons was appointed Governor in 1973.
On 8 October 1974, St. Lucians mourned the death of a treasured son. He was 57.