Annette C. and Harold C. Simmons
Harold C. Simmons grew up in Golden, Texas, the son of educators who instilled in him the value of learning. His father, Leon Simmons, was superintendent of schools in Golden, and his mother, Fairess Simmons, was a teacher.
Harold Simmons earned a B.A. in 1951 and an M.S. degree in 1952, both in economics, from the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating he worked for a government agency and then a Dallas-based bank. In his late 20s, he invested his savings and borrowed money in 1961 to buy a small drugstore on Hillcrest Avenue across from SMU. The University Pharmacy with its popular lunch counter was a favorite spot for the campus community. Simmons built that store into a chain of 100 drugstores across Texas. In 1973 he sold the stores to Jack Eckerd, who developed the chain as Eckerd Drugs.
Launching his career as an investor, Simmons became founder, chair and CEO of Contran Corporation, a holding company with interests including chemicals, metals, waste management and computer support systems. He serves as chair and CEO of Kronos Worldwide, NL Industries and Titanium Metals Corporation.
Simmons is a former member of the executive boards of SMU's Edwin L. Cox School of Business and Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. His previous gifts to SMU include $1.8 million to establish the Simmons Distinguished Professorship in Marketing in the Cox School and $1.2 million for the President's Scholars program.
Harold Simmons married Annette Caldwell in 1980. They have become the largest local charitable donors in the city's history, with emphasis on Dallas medical institutions. Gifts to Children's Medical Center include the Annette Simmons Heart Hospital and support for research, neuro-oncology and continuity-of-care programs. Their support of the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas has focused particularly on arthritis and cancer research. They have supported the arts through gifts including the Annette and Harold Simmons Glass Façade for the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts.
Harold and Annette Simmons together received the Southwestern Medical Foundation's Charles Cameron Sprague Community Service Award and the Annette G. Strauss Humanitarian Award.