Simmons, Mae D. Thomas (1909–1981)

By: Alwyn Barr

Type: Biography

Published: April 14, 2021

Updated: April 14, 2021

Mae D. Thomas Simmons, public school teacher and civic leader, was born in Navarro County, Texas, on December 5, 1909. She moved with her parents to Wichita Falls, Texas, when she was fifteen years old and there received her high school diploma. After two years as a student at Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College (now Prairie View A&M University), she later graduated with a B.A. from Texas Southern University and added summer classes at Huston-Tillotson College. She received a master’s degree at the University of Iowa with more summer studies at the universities of Colorado and Minnesota.

After teaching at Henrietta, Texas, she moved to Lubbock and wed a man named Simmons on July 28, 1939. She taught at the elementary level in Lubbock for twenty-nine years, beginning in 1943. Mae Simmons first instructed students at Ella Iles Elementary School, where she then served as principal over a twelve-year span. Later she returned to the classroom at Hodges Elementary School and retired there in 1972.

Her extensive civic activities in Lubbock included eighteen years with the United Fund, chair of a March of Dimes chapter for fifteen years, and ten years of service for the American Cancer Society. She participated on boards for the YWCA, Girl Scouts, Boys’ Clubs, a day nursery, and Child Welfare, as well as the Community Planning Council. Her numerous professional memberships included the Lubbock Classroom Teachers Association, National Education Association, Texas Elementary Principals Association, and American Association of University Women. She attended Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Governor Preston Smith appointed her to an advisory committee of the State Manpower Board. As a result of her wide ranging civic service, the city of Lubbock created Mae Simmons Community Center and Mae Simmons Park in 1953.

Following retirement Mae Simmons in 1978 moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where she had a sister, and then to Houston in 1980 where two brothers lived. She died there at Park Plaza Hospital on August 5, 1981, and was buried in Houston Memorial Gardens.

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Samuel J. Ayers, African American Heroes of Lubbock (Lubbock: Lubbock Christian University, 2003). Lubbock Digest, August 13 Thru August 19, 1981. Katie Parks, comp., Remember When? A History of African Americans in Lubbock, Texas (Lubbock: Friends of the Library/Southwest Collection, 1999). Vertical File, Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University.

  • Education
  • Educators
  • School Principals and Superintendents
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders
  • Women

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Alwyn Barr, “Simmons, Mae D. Thomas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 09, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 14, 2021
April 14, 2021

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