Mark Trevor Simmons obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Mark Trevor Simmons

April 30, 1960 - August 31, 2015

Obituary


On August 31st, 2015, Mark Trevor Simmons passed away at St. David's Hospital in Austin, TX due to complications from battling Leukemia. He was 55 years old.

Son of Jill and John Simmons, Mark grew up in Falmouth, England where he first discovered his passion for flying at an early age. He served as a pilot for the British Royal Air Force and later the Mission Aviation Fellowship, an Australian non-profit that flies for disaster relief and other humanitarian efforts.

He first received a bachelor's in environmental science from the University...

On August 31st, 2015, Mark Trevor Simmons passed away at St. David's Hospital in Austin, TX due to complications from battling Leukemia. He was 55 years old.

Son of Jill and John Simmons, Mark grew up in Falmouth, England where he first discovered his passion for flying at an early age. He served as a pilot for the British Royal Air Force and later the Mission Aviation Fellowship, an Australian non-profit that flies for disaster relief and other humanitarian efforts.

He first received a bachelor's in environmental science from the University of Lancaster in the United Kingdom, and then moved with his first wife and two daughters to South Africa. Here he accomplished both a bachelor's and master's degree in botany from the University of Cape Town, which was also where he was blessed to meet a soon to be best friend and his eventual loving wife of 18 years.

Mark's dedication to his family and interests eventually brought him to the United States, where in 2000 he began his life's work at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and received his doctorate in rangeland ecology and management at Texas A&M University in 2003.

A dynamic leader, Mark led research and design projects at the Wildflower Center focused on restoring landscapes and urban green spaces to improve their environmental benefits. Among his research accomplishments were the most comprehensive study of the impact of commercial vegetated roofs, developing a turf of native grasses for Texas and nearby states that requires less water and chemical inputs than traditional lawns, demonstrating the value of prescribed fires for controlling non-native plant species and restoring landscapes, and developing a medium for green roofs made of all-sustainable materials and native plants.

Mark also led more than a dozen environmental design projects that transformed hundreds of acres of landscapes, including the 23-acre George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, the 8-mile-long Mission Reach restoration project in San Antonio, the Southwest Greenway in Austin's Mueller Park, and the landscape master plan at The University of Texas at Austin. His group led workshops on projects such as restoration plans for national park landscapes in five states.

He taught university and professional courses on ecological landscape design and restoration ecology at The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. He sat on several technical committees including the Landscape Architecture Foundation and the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™). In November 2013, he received a national research award for advancing the profession from the American Society of Landscape Architects, after he was recognized that May by the society's Texas Chapter for his impact on environmental awareness and policy. Mark was passionate about the role that landscapes can play in improving our lives, particularly in urban environments. In November 2013, he delivered a TEDx talk on the topic. One of his goals was to bring prairies into the city, and he worked toward the day that our cities would be home to the largest expanse of Blackland Prairie, a highly endangered ecosystem.

Mark is survived by his four children, Hannah, Emily, Jacob, and Luke Simmons; his wife, Deborah Mann; and his siblings, Alison Harris, Paul Simmons, and Helen Kessell.

He will be remembered as an ecological leader, an inspirational father, and a dear friend to many

In lieu of flowers, the family would like contributions to be made in Mark's memory to one or more of the following options:
1) A new outdoor research classroom at the Lady Bird Johnson Wild Flower Center (contributions can be made by contacting Jesse Greendyk at jgreendyk@wildflower.org or 512-585-3981).
2) The Margaret Bamberger Education Fund (http://bambergerranch.org/donate-to-bamberger-ranch-preserve/)
3) The Challenge Air charity (an aviation organization helping critically ill children or children with disabilities through private flying experiences): http://www.challengeair.org/.