If you drive about 15 miles west of Downtown West Palm Beach on Okeechobee Blvd., before the houses give way to the Cane Fields, you’ll come across a little country church called Community of Hope.
It’s an intimate church where friends and family gather for Sunday Services and during the week for different studies and events. There are no strangers and mostly everyone knows everyone else, and even if they didn’t know many of the others, everyone had met Eric Simmonds.
For years, Eric greeted young and old alike at the north entrance to the church. He opened the doors and greeted everyone with a smile and a kind word. Those blessed to know him could not help but love and respect him.
Eric had been involved in an accident years ago which left him with physical issues; however, being a U.S. Marine through and through, it never stopped him or even slowed him down. He was always there, rain or shine, week in and week out; he reduced his disabilities to a mere nuisance as witnessed by the fact that he had to rise at 3:00 am to prepare and arrive on time every Sunday…so he could greet and open the door for able bodied people. I might add, he didn’t stay for one or two services either; he was among the first to arrive and one of the very last to leave every Sunday. Recently a mutual friend shared how he had asked Eric how he was doing one day, and Eric replied that he was fine. To which that mutual friend asked, “how are you really doing..?” Eric just smiled sheepishly and said, “not so good Mr. Larry.” Because that was who he was; he wasn’t about to dampen anyone else’s day by relaying his own discomfort.
Eric wasn’t looking to do anything but serve his friends, and by doing so, serve his Lord.
Sadly, Eric’s disabilities took a turn for the worse recently and he was hospitalized with leukemia for what was to be a month long treatment ordeal. On Thursday evening, the Lord decided that Eric had suffered silently long enough and ushered him into Eternity. The entire family at Community of Hope is at once saddened for losing our brother, and joyful that he is now Home.
Eric was a friend, an inspiration, a true witness of the Love of Christ, a U.S. Marine, and so much more. Rest in Eternal Peace Eric Simmonds. Until we meet again…