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Jack Simms, the first chair of Auburn University’s journalism department, died Tuesday, Nov. 8. Simms received a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism in 1949 from what was then the Alabama Polytechnic Institute. While a student, he became editor of The Plainsman. After graduating with a master’s degree in journalism from LSU, Simms began a lengthy career with The Associated Press. He served as a reporter and editor in Atlanta; as bureau chief for Kentucky and New England; and as deputy general sports editor in New York.

Simms returned to Auburn in 1974 to chair the newly-formed department of journalism. Under his tenure, the program became nationally accredited. Enrollment increased and demand for Auburn graduates frequently exceeded the number available. Simms retired from the position as chair in 1992.

Many know Simms for his journalism career, but others know him as a veteran of World War II. He was publicly recognized on Saturday, Nov. 5, during the halftime show at Auburn’s football game versus Vanderbilt, for his service during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Simms was named the 2010 Distinguished Veteran by the City of Auburn and was on the Alabama honor flight to Washington, D.C., that year to commemorate the memorial of Iwo Jima.   

Funeral arrangements are pending.