Earl Simmons ’49: Giving Back in Gratitude

Earl SimmonsLike many young adults, Earl Simmons '49 (VPA) dreamed of attending college but lacked the resources to realize his ambition. His fortunes changed when he heard about the GI Bill while serving in the armed forces during World War II. He took advantage of this opportunity along with 10,000 other GIs who changed the face of the Syracuse campus overnight. Being older than the average student and eager to join the workforce, he attained his degree in three years through an accelerated program but now says, "looking back, I had such a good time, I wish I had stayed for four years."

Earl had early visions of a career in radio but hundreds of aspiring actors and actresses are thankful he wound up majoring in musical theater. After honing his skills during a stage career that included three stints on Broadway, he took his craft to the classroom where he taught speech and theater at Long Island University. Throughout his distinguished 20-year tenure, he directed numerous student productions and even performed in them when called upon by those he mentored.

Earl has long made annual contributions to Syracuse and said, "for many years I knew that I wanted to do something bigger when the time was right." He recently decided that establishing a charitable gift annuity with the University would allow him to achieve his wish of future support for the College of Visual and Performing Arts while also yielding a guaranteed income stream for the rest of his life. "Syracuse provided me with so much growing up; an education and preparation for a career. I just feel that it is incumbent on any graduate who has the ability, to give back."

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