Barbara (Diohep) Simmons, 82, of Woonsocket, R.I., went to her eternal life on Nov. 10, after a heroic, brave battle with cancer. She passed away, peacefully, with her son, Glen, holding her hand.
She was born in Woonsocket on Aug. 2, 1939, Barbara was the youngest of ten children of Joseph and Helen (Elias) Diohep, first generation immigrants to Woonsocket from Maara, Syria, and founding members of St. Elias Melkite Catholic Church, Woonsocket.
She was the loving wife of the late Thomas J. Simmons Jr., deceased in 1985. They were married Oct. 19, 1965, at St. Elias Church. She is survived by her two sons, Glen Simmons of Woonsocket, and Thomas Simmons of Los Angeles, Calif., and her grandson, Thomas Dylan Simmons, of Los Angeles. She was predeceased by her nine siblings, Marjorie Monsour, Rose Kennedy, Louis Diohep, William Diohep, Leo Diohep, Ida Diohep, Helen Diohep, Alice Daly, and Joseph Diohep. Barbara was a communicant of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Woonsocket, and the former St. Elias Melkite Catholic Church, Woonsocket.
She was employed by the state of Rhode Island for 26 years as the administrative officer for Coastal Resources Management Council. Barbara was the person you wanted to know to get results and action, from issuing permits to helping others in need of a job. Barbara would go above and beyond to help others in need, and was a force to be reckoned with. She recently was awarded the Special Congressional Recognition Award for her many years of dedicated service both to the Coastal Resources Management Council and to the state of Rhode Island.
She was past president of the St. Elias Women's Sodality, a former board member of the North Smithfield Historic District Commission, a longtime steering committee member for the Woonsocket Chapter of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, as well as a realtor in the northern R.I. area. In 1970, Barbara became Chairman of Woonsocket's first ever and hugely successful "dinner" fashion show, which was attended by more than 600 individuals, raising significant funds for the renovation of St. Elias Church. Her greatest accomplishment in life, however, was as a loving wife, mother, and grandmother to her family. She was a resident of North Smithfield for 40 years before moving back to Woonsocket in 2007.
A widow at age 45, Barbara selflessly did her absolute best to raise her two sons, instilling upon them the importance of a good education as well as love and loyalty for family. Barbara was an exceptional caregiver to both her husband, Thomas, and her sister, Helen, during their respective illnesses. She set the bar and provided a wonderful example of a true caregiver. Her loyalty and love for her husband, sons, grandson, and siblings, as well as her sense of humor, quick wit, and unparalleled mischief were traits that made Barbara a special person. Her lifelong friendships with her classmates from Woonsocket High School's Class of 1956 were something she cherished and held close to her heart. Their monthly luncheons were very special to her. Barbara's favorite days were having her house on Dunlap Street filled with her loyal, loving family, friends, and cousins, and her sons are very grateful to all who supported, visited, and loved her during her illness. This was her very best medicine. The family would especially like to thank the caring staff of Hope Health Hospice, most especially Audrey Thomas Mitchell and Melissa Bibeault, and her wonderful caregiver and friend, Jeannette Desrosiers.
Her funeral will be held Saturday, Nov. 13, beginning with visitation at 8:30 a.m. in the Holt Funeral Home, 510 South Main St., Woonsocket followed by a Mass of Christian burial at 10 a.m. in St. Joseph Catholic Church, 1200 Mendon Road, Woonsocket, which may be viewed live online at https://client.tribucast.com/tcid/5364396278. Burial at St. Charles Cemetery, Blackstone, Mass., will be private.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to HopeHealth, 1085 North Main St., Providence, RI 02904.
Visit www.holtfuneralhome.com .