Obituary for Doreen Simmons May 29, 1932 – April 23, 2018
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of one of FEW’s longest patrons and members, the inimitable Doreen Simmons.
Ms Simmons died in her sleep in the early hours of April 23, 2018 at age 85. Details of her memorial service are below.
A stalwart of the Tokyo community for over 40 years, her energy, unique character, freedom and creativity will be sorely missed. Until a few weeks ago, she was still attending her beloved St. Alban’s Church and was active until very close to the end of her life.
Many would remember her from her Sumo Wrestling Commentary and expertise, for which she was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Japan’s highest honour not reserved for royalty or politicians, in November 2017. Or her haunting solos with the British Embassy Choir, her regular appearances around town with her percussion and specifically her bodran drum and her appearances with the Tokyo international players. Then there was reaching the finals of the UK intellectual quiz show, Mastermind, her bungee jump to celebrate her 68th birthday, the tattoo she got in Mongolia while in her 70s and working for Habitat for Humanity or her colorful and irreverent stories from life in Japan since the 1970s. She worked loyally in the Foreign Ministry until very recently and was a fierce and staunchly independent woman, as anyone who tried to help her with her bags, or offer her a chair would attest to!
Doreen spoke for FEW a number of times, most recently in 2011 when FEW celebrated its 30th anniversary, where she spoke of her 30+ years in Japan. She was equal parts fascinating, surprising, inspiring and a bit cheeky. Never short of an opinion, or big on political correctness, she would often say the things you think but don’t say. That same year FEW awarded her a lifetime contribution award at the Bonenkai, for which she was thrilled and surprised. While known for her independence and speaking her mind, Doreen was also humble, gracious and grateful when recognised or honoured. She was a star at FEW parties and would make merry, dance with joyful abandon and imbibe with gay abandon. It won’t be the same without her.
She will be sadly missed by everyone who ever met her in Tokyo and the FEW community. We salute you Doreen and the trails you blazed and the example you set on how to continue to revel in life, with unabashed joy, loyalty, interest, independence, mobility, wellness, curiosity, art, voice, and relevance. We will never forget you.
For those who knew Doreen personally, there will be a full Anglican Funeral, including the Holy Eucharist, at St Alban’s Church on Saturday 28th April from 1:30 pm and a cremation will follow. FEW will be representing at the funeral, and the church has requested, please attend only if you were friends with Doreen, due to limited capacity.
For those who would like to pay their respects there will be a memorial service open to the public in May, and the details will released soon.
With deepest sympathies from the FEW Community.
Learn more about Doreen here:
- ABC News- How did 83yo British woman Doreen Simmons become a sumo commentator in Japan?
- Nottingham Post – How this 85-year-old from Nottingham became a sumo wrestling commentator in Japan
- Video – A Day with Doreen
- Video – Doreen Simmons | Tedx Talk at TEDxMeijiUniversity – 誰が私の将来を決めるのか？誰があなたの将来を決めるのか？
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