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Commissioners honor pioneering chair Jarrette Simmons

Wayne County Commissioners paused during their Feb. 7 meeting to honor the memory of former commission Chair Jarrette Simmons who passed away Dec. 2 at age 90.

Simmons served as chair in 1978 and was the first African American woman to chair the commission.

Commission Chair Alisha Bell praised Simmons' legacy, saying current commission members "stand on her shoulders."

Commissioners Irma Clark-Coleman and Martha G. Scott, longtime friends of Simmons, recalled her determination and inspiring rise from switchboard operator at the former Wayne County Road Commission to chair of the then-27 member county board.

Commissioners also presented a memorial resolution to Simmons' daughter, Adoria Simmons, honoring her mother's long service to the people of Wayne County.

Simmons was born in Cincinnati and graduated from high school at age 16 before moving to Detroit. She worked as a keypunch operator and a switchboard operator for the road commission. She also worked on the campaign staff of Detroit City Council member David Eberhard before chairing for the commission.