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Judith M. Simmons, 'Miss Liberty Belle,' Longtime​ Teacher, Dies at 66

December 25, 2008
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Judith M. Simmons, 66, a retired public high school teach- er, died Oct. 25 at her home in Holland, Pa. The former Judith Weiss, she was a native of Philadelphia

Simmons graduated from Overbrook High School and subsequently attended Temple University, where she earned a master's degree in history. While working towards her master's degree, she began teaching psychology and American history to one of the first ninth- and 12th-grade classes at George Washington High School.

At age 23, Simmons was selected "Miss Liberty Belle" by various members of the Philadelphia Board of Education and the City Representative's Office, known as the Freedom Week Committee.

During her tenure as "Miss Liberty Belle," Simmons served as the voice of the nonpartisan committee to help fellow Americans fulfill their right to vote by traveling around the country to encourage voter registration for the six weeks leading up to July 4, 1965.

While she was delighted to receive this honor and recognition, which included various televised speeches and public appearances around the city of Philadelphia, Simmons was more touched and grateful for the "Happy Birthday, 'Miss Liberty Belle' " cake presented to her by the 1,500 students and faculty members at George Washington High School.

Simmons continued her teaching career at George Washington for more than 35 years.

Simmons, who appreciated competition, became a Bridge player and earned the honorable "Life Master" designation from the American Contract Bridge League in 2006.

Simmons is survived by her husband, Jeffrey Simmons; daughter Jane Simmons; son Jonathan Simmons; and brother Robert Weiss.

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