1910 – 1988
Essay by Caroline Wilkie Wordell
Doris Elizabeth Simmons was born on July 11, 1910 in Little Compton, the only child of George Harlan and Lottie Annie (Wilcox) Simmons. George Harlan was the son of Abel Brownell Simmons and Harriet (Little) Simmons. Lottie Annie was the daughter of Peleg and Lizzie Pierce (Dodge) Wilcox of Tiverton.
Doris attended No. 10 school, which was a ten minute walk from her home on Long Pasture Road. She remembered that after a blizzard she would sled atop the drifts to get to school. On the coldest days the teacher warmed a kettle of hot chocolate, on a stove that was kept burning with wood students carried in from a pile outside the door. The bathrooms at No. 10 were outside, in an adjacent building, with either a “two-holer or a three- holer.” The school had two rows of double desks with a big black wood-stove in the center. The teacher’s desk was on a platform. Each desk had the infamous ink well that girls with long hair had good reason to fear because boys would dip their hair in the ink. Doris remembered that sometimes when the teacher stepped outside, the boys would lock her out! After six years at No. 10, Doris graduated to junior high which was held at No. 8 school on the Commons (this building became the home of the American Legion #37, and subsequently was joined to the Town Hall and is now serving at the office of the Town Treasurer and Tax Collector.)
In 1931, Doris graduated from Rhode Island Teachers’ College in Providence, and took her first job in Portsmouth at another one-room schoolhouse. She taught at the Chase school, grades one through four. In September of 1933 she moved to the Hutchinson school and taught grade three. The years 1934-1936 found her teaching grades five and six at the Newtown school, and the following year she was teaching grades five and six at the Henry F. Anthony school. The following year was just grade six at the Anthony school. In 1941 she was back at Newtown school and taught grade three until 1949. From 1950-1955 she was principal at Newtown School. From 1956-1963 she was principal at Coggeshall school and also taught grade four there. In February of 1963 Doris was appointed full-time principal of Coggeshall. She retired, at the suggestion of her doctor, in 1964. Doris’ motivation for being a classroom teacher is summed up in this statement from her: “Public education is the criterion for determining the culture and the morality of a people.”
Doris taught Sunday School classes and Vacation Bible School for ten years. She taught also in Fall River and Little Compton, and filled all the chairs at the Little Compton Grange.
She was an elected member of the Little Compton School Committee for many years.
Doris traveled extensively and often showed slides and lectured on her travels.
She passed away in Fall River, MA in 1988. Wilbur-McMahon School has a Doris E. Simmons Memorial Scholarship funded by Doris in her will.
Caroline Wilkie Wordell
Essay by Walter and Norma Elwell
Doris Simmons lived on Long Pasture Road with her mother and father. Doris was a very active lady in Little Compton organizations and the United Congregational Church. Doris especially liked the Little Compton Grange #32. She served as its master and many years as its treasurer. Doris’ written history of Little Compton Grange was used many times in Grange activities.
Walter and Norma Elwell