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Dr. John Nelson Simons


John N. Simons passed away peacefully at his home on Wilson Bay, Gull Lake, Minnesota the afternoon of June 3, 2024. He was 91 and had spent recent decades on the lake, which he loved dearly.
Dr. Simons was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas with his brother Dolph C. Simons Jr. and his parents, Marie Nelson Simons and Dolph Collins Simons. While in Lawrence, John earned letters in three sports at Lawrence High School, was All-State quarterback and played football at the University of Kansas. He went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from KU, and subsequently attended the University of Pennsylvania for medical school.
John performed his residency and fellowship in General and Plastic Surgery at Mayo Clinic and KU, respectively, during the 1950’s, and subsequently became the inaugural Chair of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Mayo in Rochester, Minnesota until 1974, when he began private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona. His heroes at Mayo included Dr(s). Oliver Beahrs, James Priestly, John Kirklin, and Virgil Counseller, who taught him not only surgical skills but patient responsibility, dignity, and respect.

John and his family were introduced to Gull Lake in the 1930’s by a relative from St. Cloud, Minnesota, and he proudly became a licensed walleye fishing guide during his high school and college years, often stewarding loyal clients each summer while they visited Island View, Cragun’s and Madden’s Resorts. He was reunited with the lake during his time at Mayo, and he was proud to count each of his 91 summers on Steamboat and Wilson Bays.
John’s greatest attributes were his devotion to his five children, Melissa, Suzanne, Jim, Andrea, and John Jr., his intellectual curiosity in his fellow man, and his unwavering willingness to help all people when in need. Accordingly, John counted many as friends, and many more counted John as their good friend.
John’s passions included being an outdoorsman, a pianist who could play by ear, his beloved dogs and most of all, cherishing the view across Wilson Bay.
In addition to his children and his brother Dolph (Pam), John is survived by seven grandchildren (Allison, Maxfield, Carter, Rexroad, Foley, Powell, and Samantha), four great grandchildren (Wyatt, Blakely, John, and Tex), and several nieces and nephews.
A private family burial will take place at St. Thomas of the Pines. Arrangements are with the Koop Funeral Home in Crosby.