Hundreds filled Lee Hall Thursday to honor the life of the late Florida A&M University student Courtney Simms. The gloomy weather did not stop President James Ammons from encouraging mourners to use this moment as a source of inspiration that started with the university.
“We got to do something about this…she [Courtney] would want us to do better,” Ammons told the packed auditorium. “The legislature and the state university system will work together to ensure all students get the vaccine.”
The cause of death may have been a rare blood infection called meningococcemia. Ammons said making the campus healthy was not an option and that the task would not be a financial burden for the school.
“We need to ensure the university environment is healthy and safe for students, faculty, staff and everyone who visits,” Ammons said.
Throughout the lively hour and a half memorial service, sometimes interrupted by quiet sniffles from mourners, speakers reflected on Simms’s cheerful spirit.
Simms’s best friend Ramsay McCoy rallied friends and loved ones to take this time to celebrate the life of her friend.
“She was so blessed and loved life,” McCoy said. “She brought me so many good times.”
McCoy recalled a time when Simms sent her picture mail via cell phone of an engagement ring.
“I was so nervous for her because it came so soon,” McCoy said. “The next day I got a text that said you’ve been punked.”
With the audience in laughter Seth Williams, Simms’s boyfriend, shared moments of their four-month relationship.
“Although we were together for a little while, it felt as if it was much longer because we did so much stuff…we traveled so many places,” Williams said. “I went half broke with this girl…but every trip was worth every dollar.”
Long-time friend and former co-anchor with Simms on FAMU-TV 20, Brent Hatchett closed out the program by inspiring students to look at the model Simms had within.
“She was an image of a model and had the character of the model,” Hatchett explained. “The model Jesus Christ…her life takes us over to Galatians 5:22…she had the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Simms’s immediate family traveled from Gary, Ind., to attend the memorial service.
“It was a wonderful memorial,” said Simms’s father Chester Simms. “I feel like this school is an extension of our family from the amount of support we received.”