Cover photo for Marc Simmons's Obituary
1937 Marc 2023

Marc Simmons

May 15, 1937 — September 14, 2023



Marc S. Simmons, one of New Mexico's best-known historians, passed away peacefully in his sleep on September 14, 2023, at La Vida Llena in Albuquerque. He was 86.

Marc was born in Dallas, Texas, to his parents J.M. Simmons and Lois Simmons. He grew up in an historical time period that glorified the Old West and during his childhood years he identified with the values and public figures who exemplified those values, especially individuals who strived to be independent and self-sufficient. He began focusing on history when he was in the 6th grade.

After graduation from high school in Dallas (which included ROTC training) he enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin.
During the next four years he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin American Studies, with a major in Spanish. In 1958 he moved on to the University of New Mexico for graduate studies in Inter-American Affairs. His studies there included a graduate history class given by well-known scholar Dr. France V. Scholes.

One interest was ghost towns in New Mexico. Another was law and order issues, i.e. the bank hold-ups and the stagecoach bandits. Then there were newspaper columns by the hundreds. Readers were especially fond of stories about Elfego Baca, a folk hero in the Socorro area.

And there was a book on the history of Albuquerque, and a book on the history of the New Mexico. At a later time, he wrote several books for children, with frontier children in leading rolls. He was joined in the effort by Ronald Kil, a rising Western artist based in Santa Fe who eventually illustrated over a dozen of Marc's works.

Marc also became interested in the Santa Fe Trail and eventually wrote six books on the subject. Marc helped publicize the former value of the Santa Fe Trail and worked along with many others to get the federal Santa Fe Trail bill (introduced by U.S. Congressman Bill Richardson of New Mexico) signed by President Ronald Reagan in May, 1987.

Eventually, Marc published over 40 books, most of which were connected to areas of the American Southwest. He wrote over a thousand weekly news articles for New Mexico newspapers, including the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Santa Fe Reporter, and the Socorro El Defensor Chieftan and the El Paso Times for a while. Trail Dust was the name most often used for newspaper columns.
Fortunately, a woman named Phyllis S. Morgan, a retired reference librarian, information research specialist and an educator, chose to write a bio/bibliography about Marc. Her book entitled "Marc Simmons of New Mexico, Maverick Historian," was published by the University of New Mexico Press in 2005. It contains 368 pages of factual information including indexes, photos of Marc, and pages of biography information and lists of so much of his published works through the year 2005.

Marc received a number of awards and recognitions for various writings, many listed in "Marc Simmons of New Mexico, Maverick Historian."

In 1993, Marc was knighted by Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, with the rank of commander in the Order of lsabela la Catolica for his writings about Spanish Colonial History. The award is the highest conferred by Spain on a non-Spainish citizen. (Another New Mexico historian, Charles F. Loomis, had received the same award in 1915, when he was knighted by King Alfonso XIII).

In addition to historical writings, Marc enjoyed experiencing some of the same things his history subjects enjoyed. In the late 1950's and 1960's he worked four summers as a cowboy ranch hand in New Mexico, Arizona and Wyoming. He also enjoyed working part time at horse shoeing.

He also worked as a mule packer on several ranches and on one occasion for the U.S. Forest Service. His first cattle drive was in Wyoming-one week in length-from North Platte to Medicine Bow National Forest in the Laramie Mountains in East Central Wyoming (salary $100 per week).

He also was in country similar to the country in the Hollywood Western movie Shane. That was Marc's favorite western movie.
As luck would have it the author of the novel Shane, Jack Schaeffer, for a time lived not far from Marc's small ranch south of Santa Fe and the two writers would visit occasionally.

Marc was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Peggy Ladenberger (Charles). Marc is survived by his brother Hal Simmons (Ina) and his nephews and nieces, through his Brother: Scott Simmons, Jill Ritz (Nicholas) Nan Griswold (David), and through his Sister, Peggy Ladenberger: Jan Person, Judy Burnett {Bill) Susan Garza

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Friday, October 27, 2023

10:30 - 11:30 am (Mountain time)

Wyoming & San Antonio Funeral Home

7121 Wyoming Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109

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