Family, Friends And Officials Celebrate The Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway Designation With Memories And Champagne Toasts

There was a chill in the air and the forecast of light snow in the days ahead. But neither that nor Annette Simmons‘ in-recovery cough was going to prevent a special announcement from being made regarding Annette’s late husband, Harold C. Simmons, on Friday, January 12.

Jerry Fronterhouse, Amy Simmons Crafton, Annette Simmons and Don Huffines

Even state politicos like Sen. Don Huffines and State Rep. Morgan Meyer with their staffs had arranged to be on hand for the occasion at Annette’s and Jerry Fronterhouse‘s home. Morgan, who’d just returned from a legal proceeding in New England, hadn’t let the big northeastern blizzard keep him from pulling up in his SUV in Simmons’ driveway.

The day had been a long time coming. While entrepreneur/philanthropist Harold had died in 2013, his legacy was continuing, thanks to his widow Annette and their blended family.

Morgan Meyer, Lisa Simmons Crafton and Joe Crafton

Before the “official” part of the event began, guests gathered in the home’s formal living room to chat. Morgan and Simmons’ daughter Amy Simmons Crafton were comparing notes about the new four-legged additions in their families. Amy and husband Joe Crafton had Grace, a four-month-old Golden Retriever, and Morgan had a four-month Retriever named Scout that had already had a run-in with the Meyers’ son, Asher.

Signed Act designating Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway

The last to  arrive was Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who was immediately welcomed by Annette.

Over on a table was the official paperwork signed in October that designated the section of Preston Road (aka State Highway 289) from Northwest Highway to Royal Lane as the Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway, thanks to the Simmons family, Greg, Don and Morgan. 

Annette Simmons and Greg Abbott

As the group assembled in the living room, the Simmons’ longtime friend Texas Tech University Chancellor Emeritus Kent Hance kicked things off, recalling Harold’s sense of humor. According to Kent, when Harold “called to congratulate me on becoming chancellor, I said, ‘I dreamed last night that you gave Texas Tech $100 million.’ Harold said, ‘You must have had a nightmare.’”

Next up was Don, who stood next to Greg and applauded Harold’s brilliance at entrepreneurship and patriotism. “He believed in America, in American exceptionalism, and in the great state of Texas,” Don said. “He loved the Republican Party … I don’t think we can find a better patriot—a [more] virtuous patriot—and Harold was that. The least we can do is honor him with a couple of signs on Preston Road.”

Don was followed by Morgan, who noted the late billionaire’s longstanding support of nonprofits. At the time of his death, Harold and Annette Simmons’ charitable contributions had provided many hundreds of millions of dollars to countless nonprofits, ranging from the Mineola Volunteer Fire Department to the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. Just the year before his death, Harold personally gave away millions, including $50,000 to the Rayfield Wright Foundation, $60,000 to Hunger Busters, and more than $1 million to Buckner Children and Family Services.

Jerry Fronterhouse, Lisa Simmons and Don Glendenning

After Don and Morgan spoke, Annette assembled the people who had supported the Simmonses through the years—including their drivers, security people, and house staff—to be formally recognized. Besides Joe and Amy—she had donated a kidney to Harold—also on hand were Harold’s daughter Lisa Simmons, Annette’s son Andy Fleck with Andy’s son Austin Fleck, and Harold’s longtime lawyer Don Glendenning.

Andy Fleck, Kent Hance and Austin Fleck

With Annette seated next to him, Greg said that Harold would be remembered for “doing everything [he could] to protect the freedoms that have made America the greatest country in the world.”

Annette Simmons and Greg Abbott

With a twinkle in her eye and a mischievous smile, Annette looked at Greg and recalled a Dallas Cowboys football game where “you were visiting with [Harold]. I said to him, ‘What were you two talking about?’ And he said, ‘I just asked him how much he needed.’”

There were also small, personal memories of Harold. It seems, for example, that Harold’s sense of humor was not diminished after he had his kidney transplant, courtesy of Amy. Following the surgery, he gave Amy earrings and a necklace to commemorate their “relationship.” Every now and then Harold would tease her to wear his “kidney stones.”

Amy Simmons Crafton, Annette Simmons and Greg Abbott

The group then moved into the study for the unveiling of a prototype of the two signs that were being installed on Preston at that very moment. The room was dominated by a portrait of Harold at age 68 or so, and another of the Simmonses’ Springer Spaniel, Duke, which had been painted by their friend, former President George W. Bush.

Duke

Upon checking out the new sign proclaiming the Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway, Don and Greg jokingly debated whether the color tended to be Aggie maroon.

Joe, looking at Greg, asked with a laugh whether the Simmons highway designation meant it’s “true that Amy cannot get a speeding ticket on the Harold Simmons Memorial Highway?” Retorted the governor in the same spirit: “Just wait until we add another three lanes on either side!”

Greg Abbott and Annette Simmons

With that, Annette and Jerry asked everyone to join them in a champagne toast to the naming of the highway.

Don Huffines

Don Huffines

Don then did a double presentation. First, he presented a framed photo of the signing of the legislative act designating the miles in Harold’s name. Then, a copy of Harold’s biography, titled “Golden Boy,” was presented to Greg. When Annette and Jerry realized that Greg had not read the book yet, a pen was produced and Annette personalized it for the governor.

Jerry Fronterhouse and Annette Simmons and Greg Abbott

After all the accolades and toasts had been completed, Jerry raised his glass one more time, this time to honor Annette, saying how her efforts to salute her late husband’s accomplishments were to be applauded. “She shaped his thinking, I’m sure,” Jerry said. “You all were a great team—probably one of the most powerful husband-and-wife teams in Texas.”

For more photos from the reception, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway Designation Reception

Morgan Meyer, Don Huffines, Kent Hance and Greg Abbott

In these parts the importance of events can’t be judged by the number of guests. Such was the case on the afternoon of Friday, January 12, at Annette Simmonsand Jerry Fronterhouse‘s estate. The crowd was made up of less than 25, but what a heady group it was — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, State Sen. Don Huffines, State Rep. Morgan Meyer, Texas Tech University System Chancellor Emeritus Kent Hance and the blended family and friends of the late Harold Simmons.

Greg Abbott and Annette Simmons

The occasion was the champagne toast for the designation of the Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway. As the signage was being put into place along Preston Road extending from Northwest Highway to Royal Lane, accolades and memories were shared in the home where Harold had lived for decades.

While the post is being finalized, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo Is Star Attraction At Just Say Yes’s 6th Annual Celebration

The pool house at Lisa and Kenny Troutt’s sprawling Preston Hollow manse was buzzing with excitement Tuesday, April 12, for the Just Say Yes group’s 6th Annual Celebration, officially titled “Missing Puzzle Piece.” The reason: Candice and Tony Romo were down at one end posing graciously for photos, and all the VIP guests wanted to get close to the Dallas Cowboys quarterback and his wife.

Candice’s mother, it turns out, had been instrumental in introducing Just Say Yes founder and president Dan Bailey to potential donors at a coffee some 15 years ago. And tonight, the 350 attendees—including Annette Simmons and Jerry Fronterhouse, Ed Franklin, Lee Ann and Alan White, and Tiffany and Paul Divis—would listen to Romo being interviewed by Bailey at the dinner fundraiser. Just Say Yes (Youth Equipped to Succeed) empowers youth to attain their dreams and goals—and say no to destructive choices—by educating them through student-assembly speakers and classroom curriculum.

While honorary chairs Gena and Chuck Norris weren’t able to make it, Cassandra and Avery Johnson flew in from California for the evening. Avery, the former Dallas Mavs coach who now coaches men’s basketball at the University of Alabama, presented the Avery Johnson Youth Impact Award to Lisa and Kenny. During brief remarks, Avery joked that his son Avery Jr.—a basketball player who will be transferring from Texas A&M to Alabama—is “obsessed with Tony Romo.”

Avery’s son would have been in good company at this event. During a wide-ranging conversation with Dan, Tony:

  • Said that his broken clavicle is mending nicely, and that “I think I’m gonna make it through the season, so we should be fine.”
  • Disclosed that his parents were his most influential role models growing up. He was reared in modest circumstances as a “little bit of an outcast,” Tony said.
  • Advised today’s high school students to resist peer pressure from the “cool” kids: “It doesn’t matter. Don’t let them affect you day-to-day. Don’t let them control you. Just give it to God and live your life.”
  • Criticized the often-negative effects of social media. “This social media world is so not real life,” Tony said. “I would say, a.) don’t read it. But b.), if you do, be unemotionally attached. People don’t really care about you that much. Life will go on. Just do your job and everything will be fine.”

“Missing Puzzle Piece” also featured a dinner by Chamberlain’s and an auction and raffle, with Louis Murad calling the shots. The fundraising aspect was important, Bailey explained, because Just Say Yes is aiming to triple its annual budget in three years, from $900,000 currently to $2.7 million. With the larger amount, he said, Just Say Yes would be able to reach 250,000 students a year.