Carmen H. Simmons has been an organ player at Sacred Heart Church in The Bottom for seventy years, writes The Daily Herald. A great number of attendants came to pay their respects at the church on Thursday evening. A plaque was handed over by Father Ranulfo Goneda, with an inscription reading: “Commemorating 70 years as organist from 1945-2015 at the Sacred Heart Church.” Simmons then held a speech to which she added some anecdotes, which did not go unnoticed.
Carmen Nicholson was born in 1931. As a young girl, at the age of 10, she first came into contact with the organ at a friend’s place. The friend’s mother gave Simmons an organ so she could practice and through one of her uncles she started organ lessons. Pretty soon she didn’t care much about learning to play the instrument anymore because she’d rather play outside with her friends. Another uncle, who was a shoemaker, once asked her about her organ studies and when he found out she wasn’t interested anymore he got upset. Simmons got a little scared and so she went back to the teacher and asked if she could continue her lessons. The godmother of Simmons was the local organ player for the church. After she died a nun asked Simmons if she could play the organ, since there was no one else in The Bottom with this talent. “I was around 12 years old now and a nun gave the book with all the church songs to me, so I could practice,” Simmons explained. At this time, organ player from Windwardside Floyd Every came to The Bottom every weekend to play at the congregation there. Together with Frank Hassell, Every taught Simmons frequently, and at the age of 13 she started to play at the church on her own.
“I played for three generations of Dutch royalty, starting with Queen Juliana, then Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus and for King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima,” Simmons said.
She was married with Osmar Simmons for 50 years. She had nine children. Eight of them lived; two boys and six girls. She was proud to say they all went to church together. As she worked with many different priests, “some good, and some not so good,” she still had time to start other activities. In 1962, she started children’s club Saba Girls and Boys Sports Society, which is still operational today. With this club she took children to many different destinations, such as Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and to many Caribbean islands.
Simmons thanked her children and all attendants that came to see her on Thursday. She especially thanked Ronni Simmons for all the help. “I thank Jesus for every day I’m on this earth, I feel blessed with so many good people around me,” Simmons concluded.