Saline Memorial’s Volunteer Honors Wife

Retired eye doctor honors wife’s memory as volunteer at Saline Memorial.

One of the newest volunteers at Saline Memorial Hospital doesn’t seem so new. In fact, he is continuing the legacy of his late wife, who spent more than a decade behind the front desk assisting patients and visitors alike.

Dr. Bill Simmons, 84, is a retired ophthalmologist who practiced in Benton for 48 years. He began volunteer training with the SMH Auxiliary earlier this month.

His wife, Allyson, died unexpectedly at the end of 2014. Dr. Simmons’ children expressed concern that their father was not getting out enough.

“My kids told me I needed to get busy,” he said.

So he did.

When one of the other Auxiliary volunteers recently called him and told him they had an opening, Dr. Simmons was ecstatic.

In response to the question, “Why do you want to work here?” on the Auxiliary volunteer application, Dr. Simmons wrote: “My loving wife, Allyson, volunteered here at the front desk for 11 years. She loved it. And so will I.”

During his first day of training, he told Tammy Batchelor, director of the Auxiliary, several times, “I just love people. I love being around a lot of people. I’ve been known to go to Walmart three times a day just to be around folks.”

Said Batchelor, “I predict he will want to pick up another day once he gets comfortable with it. He knew what his wife did, and he knows where everything is in the hospital. He will just have to learn a few things.”

His responsibilities at the front desk will include such tasks as looking up patient room numbers for visitors, delivering papers, and escorting patients to appropriate departments as needed.

Dr. Simmons also recently began volunteering with Christian Community Care Clinic and Churches Joint Council On Human Needs (CJCOHN), a food pantry serving Saline County residents.

At Saline Memorial Hospital, Dr. Simmons will sit in the same chair his late wife did.

“Allyson had a big heart,” said Batchelor. “She always wanted to pat you or love on you when she was talking to you. She knew everybody in town. She could call almost everyone who came through the door by name. She knew who their parents were, or where they lived. This will be like memory lane for Dr. Simmons. It will be good for him to get out and see people.”

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