Leader in Victoria County Sheriff's Office dies suddenly
for Terry Simons are pending through Grace Funeral Home at 361-573-4341.
Chief Deputy Terry Simons started Wednesday like most others - working out at 7:30 a.m. with his son.
"He and I were out doing our morning walk and we had been jogging," said his son, Sgt. Daniel Simons, also with the Victoria County Sheriff's Office. "We were getting ready to lift weights and then all of a sudden he just started breathing heavy and fell over."
Simons, 55, was rushed to Citizens Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead from what appears to have been a heart attack, Daniel said.
The sudden death has shocked both Simons' family and the Sheriff's Office, said his oldest son, Bryan Simons, a deputy with the Victoria County Sheriff's Office.
"This has been a surreal nightmare," Bryan said "You think you are going to wake up, but you don't."
Terry Simons came to the Victoria County Sheriff's Office in 2008, after having served as chief deputy for the Val Verde County Sheriff's Office since 2003.
"Over the past four years as chief of the Victoria County Sheriff's Office, Terry has made a significant impact in law enforcement throughout the region," Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said in a written statement. "Chief Simons was a true patriot and exemplary lawman. Additionally, he was a man of faith and family and will be greatly missed."
Simons started his career in law enforcement as a deputy with the Harris County Sheriff's Office in 1979 - where he also met his wife, Patricia Simons, who was also a deputy in Harris County.
"He had just gone through the Harris County Sheriff's Academy and I was fixing to go through the next academy ... It was a whirlwind romance, you might say," his wife said, smiling at the memory.
She said they met in June 1979 and were married in November the same year, after he proposed on a beach in Galveston.
"The sun was setting on one side and the moon was coming up on the other, and we sat down on the back of his truck and shooting stars were just going across the sky ... it was every girl's dream. The perfect date," Patricia said, tears in her eyes.
The couple would have celebrated their 33rd anniversary in two weeks.
"He was 6-feet 4-inches and when he walked into a room and you could see him because he was above average height, but his stature carried him so much taller," Patricia said. "Some people didn't like it, but others felt the pull. He could walk into an emergency situation and know exactly what to do."
She said his passion was serving people, which was why he also served as a Baptist pastor in Quemado, starting in 1995.
"He would meet people who just couldn't get their head around it," Daniel said. "How can these two mesh together? How can you be a cop and a pastor?"
"But I think it comes back to why he was so good at what he did - he cared about people. He genuinely cared about people," Bryan finished.
Daniel and Bryan said their father's dedication to others inspired them to enter law enforcement.
"My brother and I, growing up with our father, he was our example of what it was to be a man. And so we are both service-minded people," Daniel said.
Simons was a member of Parkway Baptist Church, Patricia said, and was a grandfather of Bryan's two children, ages 2 and 4.
"He was so concerned about making sure everyone else was taken care of, that he would put his own stuff last, to the point that it would fall apart. He gave himself and gave large pieces of himself to this community," Bryan said.