St. John Vianney honoring teacher, friend

FAIRMONT – St. John Vianney School will be closed Thursday to honor the life of Winn Ann Simser, a former teacher.

Simser died Monday after a battle with cancer. Service will be 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. John Vianney Church. Visitation will be 4-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Lakeview Funeral Home, and at the church one hour prior to the service.

Simser taught at St. John Vianney School for 10 years before retiring in 2003. After retiring, she worked as a long-term substitute at the school, as well as a short-term substitute and library volunteer.

During her time at the school, Simser made an impression on staff and students.

“If we all would live our lives like Mrs. Simser did, the world would be a better place,” said St. John Vianney Principal Joan Schaffer. “She was always so giving. Always. We all try to lead a Christian life, but I don’t remember Winn Ann saying anything negative about anybody.”

The school does not typically close for funerals, but Simser was so close to all the staff and students that Schaffer felt she could not ask teachers to work during the service.

“Because this is part of our faith, we can all attend and close school for the day,” she said. “She left such an amazing mark.”

Students remember her fondly as well.

Janessa Suckow had Simser as her fourth-grade teacher.

“She is one of those teachers that when you have, they stick out in your mind forever,” Suckow said. “She was one of the kindest, caring and non-judgmental people I was blessed to know.”

Even after Suckow was no longer her student, Simser would continue to show her kindness.

“Going through tough spurts as a teenager, she never judged me and every time I saw her, she would stop and talk to me or see how I was,” Suckow said. “I knew she actually cared. She was special to me and I know a lot of people probably feel that way and will miss her very much.”

In addition to teaching and volunteering at St. John Vianney, Simser volunteered with the church, Let’s Go Fishing and other community organizations.

“I got to spend some time at the Salvation Army with her,” Suckow added. “She donated much of her time. She will always be somebody that I will think about and pray to. One of the most genuinely good people I knew.”