Simmons Garage stays in the family

The long transition from Simmons Garage to Simmons Garage is complete in Clinton.

The long transition from Simmons Garage to Simmons Garage is complete in Clinton.

The garage and associated tow truck business have been mainstays in the downtown Clinton community for decades. Now, there’s certainty it will be in Simmons hands for many years to come.

Gordon and Shirley Simmons have completed sale of their business to daughter Sonya Simmons and her husband, Gary Peterson. The transition will be smooth as it’s already happened.

Sonya said Gary has been working at the garage for 22 years. “He’s the one who will really be running it,” she said.

Not that Sonya is a stranger to her father’s garage. She started working there at age 11, pumping gas and washing cars. “I used the money to buy my first horse,” she said.

After graduating from high school in 1980, she went on to earn a degree at the University of Puget Sound. She met Gary, a Burien native, in a rather unusual fashion. “We met on a blind date in a 10K run,” she said. It resulted in a long run of married life, including daughter Makenzie, a student at Linfield College and Jonathan, a sophomore at South Whidbey High School.

To say that Gordon and Shirley Simmons are institutions in the rural community best known for its ferry dock is an understatement. Shirley kept the books and could always be seen behind her glass-enclosed office when customers came in to pay for gas, peruse auto parts or see a mechanic. “I did the money since 1977,” she said this week. “And I kept an eye on everyone.”

It was in 1977 that Gordon bought out his partner, brother Mel, and Simmons Garage was all his and Shirley’s. “We’d been together 30 years,” Gordon recalled. Mel passed away a few years ago.

This week the sale to his daughter and her husband became final. “We’ve been in transition the past couple of years,” Sonya said.

“Very much so,” Gordon replied when asked if he was satisfied with the deal. “We kept it in the family. “We got what it was worth, it’s a going concern.”

Their other daughter, Sharon, now lives in Montana.

The property includes what used to be Simmons’ second gas station, parts store and a car wash right across Humphrey Road. Today it’s used for parking cars while the building is rented to an insurance business.

The business includes auto parts, a busy garage, six tow trucks and six employees, the longest serving being Shawn Faucher who’s been there 26 years having started when he was 14. Gordon and Shirley Simmons have long offered jobs to young people, including their two daughters, grandchildren and others in the community. Sometimes Gordon is kidded about hiring Faucher at 14. “It was legal,” he said. “You had to sign papers.”

Gordon turned 83 on Friday. A party to celebrate the retirement of Gordon and Shirley Simmons will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, June 8 at the Clinton Community Hall.