Simmons retires from Alabama Power
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
It has been almost 22 years since Martha Simmons began working at Alabama Power Company, an era that will end for her when she retires on Feb. 1, 2006.
Simmons began working in customer service in 1983 and has continued to be a familiar sight across the counter when one goes in to pay the power bill. She has become just as familiar with her customers over the years.
There have been many special moments that Simmons remembers from the last 22 years. One that stands out in her mind happened at Christmas some years ago.
Simmons said that she is very proud of the fact that she has worked for such a caring company all these years. In addition to all the friends she made in the public, she said that she has also worked with some good people, such as Ethelene Harold and Doris James.
Simmons grew up in Brewton on Kirkland Road. She was the only girl in the family with two brothers. Her father was a Baptist minister and her mother taught school. Simmons attended North Brewton School and graduated from W.S. Neal High School in 1961. It was during her growing teenage years that her mother set out on a mission to gather material for a book. Her mother was Annie Crook Waters and was the author of “The History of Escambia County.”
She married her high school sweetheart, Aquilla Simmons, in 1962, and in the next few years, she attended Pensacola Junior College for a while and Larkin's Business School, which used to be located on Douglas Avenue. She later attended Jefferson Davis Junior College for a while.
She worked at several smaller jobs and then began working at Southern Pine Electric Cooperative in 1973 and stayed there until 1976 when she and her husband adopted a son, Lee. At that time she quit to be a stay-at-home mom and in 1976, another son, Avery, was born to them.
In 1980 Simmons' husband, Aquilla, was involved in an industrial accident. He was electrocuted when a metal pole he was holding touched a live wire. He almost died and was a long time in recovery.
The next three years, Simmons worked several jobs in order to make ends meet. She was a purchasing agent for Fish Engineering of Houston, Texas, and worked at First National Bank and Barnett's Construction before starting at Alabama Power Company in 1983.
Simmons is very proud of her boys. Lee began singing at the early age of three and sang gospel and country music all over the local area. He is now working at Hilton Head, S.C., and he and his wife, Denise, have two children, Austin, 11, and Dalton, 9.
Avery lives in Brewton and works at Smurfit-Stone. His wife, Ginger, is the branch manager of BankTrust in East Brewton.
Simmons is the pianist at Cedar Hill Baptist Church and loves to travel and spend time with her grandchildren. Right now, she and her husband are spending their time remodeling their house after Hurricane Ivan took part of it away. She says it is slow but they are trying to do it right and that takes time. She plans to spend some time doing some yard work and hopes to try her hand at painting. She has a collection of glassware and what's more unusual, a collection of old thermometers.