Richard Don Simms Collection

Summary: Donor gave digital images and photocopies from scrapbooks related to himself and his father Omer Dee Simms, who died heroically in World War II aboard the USS Franklin. Richard Don Simms was in first grade at Riverside Elementary in Fort Worth when his father died in action in the Pacific Theater, but it was as an adult nearly 40 years later that the donor's mother gave him letters written by him and his father during 1944-1945. For years, Simms has received local notoriety as a banjo player. He still plays regularly at the USO located in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Airport.

View the Richard Don Simms Collection image gallery.

Blanche Marie Simms, Richard Don Simms, and Omer Dee Simms

Pictured: Donor Richard Don Simms (at center) with his mother, Blanche Marie Simmons, and father, Omer Dee Simms, in 1944

Digital Images

  • Richard Don Simms with artist Gregory Beck in front of mural with donor's likeness located at East Division Police Station. Photograph was taken on November 16, 2018. Digital copy and photocopy.
  • Richard Simms and friends at Riverside Elementary, 1944-1945
  • Richard Simms dressed as a cowboy riding on a pony, 1944-1945
  • Sally Rand, signed photograph (also digital copy and photocopy of letter from Rand to Simms), 1974
  • Family photo of Blanche Marie Simms, Richard Don Simms (age 7), and his father Omer Dee Simms, 1944 (image shown)
  • Richard Simms playing banjo on stage of Airport Hilton for crew of USS Franklin on August 2, 1980. Picture taken by Mr. Tidwell.
  • Richard Simms playing banjo while Al Morelli, salesman for Stratoflex, plays harmonica. Photo was taken in Dearborn, Michigan at Coal Show at Cobo Hall, 1976.
  • Richard Simms holding a torn poster with an image of himself and banjo above an advertisement for hamburger. Image taken at Huguley Nursing Home, 2002.
Materials related to Omer Dee Simms
  • Two-page copy of typed affidavit by George Fain Black (2003) about the events which transpired on the USS Franklin on March 19, 1945, and the heroic actions of donor's father Omer Dee Simms in rescuing 12 men. Photocopy.
  • Front and back of photograph of George Fain Black and Richard Don Simms on 12/5/2001 in Houston, Texas. Photocopy.
  • Congressional Record noting Recognition of Omer D. Simms by Congressman Michael C. Burgess in the House of Representative on January 29, 2013. Photocopy.
  • Image of father and son Simms during Christmas 1944 while Omer D. Simms was on leave (3 months before his death). Photocopy.
  • Photocopies made from scrapbook about Omer Dee Simms including World War II letters and photographs. Includes newspaper clippings, photographs, letters, postcards. Donor was in first grade.
  • Photocopies "U.S.S. Franklin Memories" publication, undated 
  • Photocopies of World War II Quarterly: Journal of the Second World War (Spring 2011)


  • Letter from Minnie Pearl Museum to Richard Don Simms, undated. Photocopy.
  • Newspaper articles about Simms, undated, 1975, 1985, 2002, 2006, 2009. Photocopies.
This page was last modified on August 05, 2020


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