Cover photo for Bernadine Ann Simmons's Obituary
Bernadine Ann Simmons Profile Photo
1944 Bernadine 2023

Bernadine Ann Simmons

August 14, 1944 — December 7, 2023


Bernadine Ann Simmons (Bernie), 79, departed this life on Thursday, December 7, 2023. 

Born Bernadine Ann Johnson in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, on August 14, 1944, she was the daughter of the late Asbury H. L. Johnson and Gladys (Mann) Johnson. She graduated from Aliquippa High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University. 

Energetic, charismatic, trailblazer, mentor, and the lady with a mile-wide smile all of this and more describe Bernie. Her boundless energy was always outstandingly displayed, and she loved her career. During one of her many interviews, she stated, “Every day was a party day.” Her God-given talent to write, her personality, and her signature smile enabled her to excel as a news anchor, marketing director, and executive producer of local non-news programs with WWBT (NBC Affiliate) in Richmond. Bernie launched the popular segment 12 About Town and continued demonstrating her excellence in media by establishing a similar segment in Charlotte, North Carolina. She began her career at WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

As an accomplished and published writer, Bernie authored articles for several national magazines, reviewed books for the Richmond newspaper, and taught at Virginia Union University, Virginia State University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. She regularly participated in media seminars for the Governors Executive Institute for state executives, the Virginia State Supreme Court for newly appointed judges, and the Virginia Department of Education for new secondary school superintendents. 

Bernie was an active presence in her community. She was the first Chair of Richmond’s extraordinarily successful Downtown promotions and marketing organization and a Chair of the Marketing Committee for the Richmond Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. She sat on the boards of the Central Richmond Association, the Richmond Renaissance, which spearheaded Richmond’s downtown revitalization; the Women’s Resource Center, the Richmond AIDS Ministry; and Downtown Presents, Inc.

Thanks to her tireless efforts and steadfastness, Bernie was instrumental in planning and developing the Richmond area’s first shelter for battered women, and she chaired the Chamber of Commerce’s study on alternative childcare for working women. She planned and developed a nationally recognized exhibit on “Slavery in America,” featured at the Richmond Museum of the Confederacy. This exhibit was entitled “Before Freedom Came” and was the first and most comprehensive exhibit on American Slavery ever produced. 

Several organizations have honored Bernie for her professional accomplishments and volunteer involvement. She was chosen as one of the YWCA’s Outstanding Women of Greater Richmond; she won the Virginia Association of Broadcasters award for Best Community Service projects; and holds a Charles Stewart Mott Special Citation awarded by the Education Writers Association of America. Additionally, the readers of Richmond Surroundings Magazine selected Bernie as the “Most Popular TV Personality in Central Virginia,” and the Richmond Women’s Yellow Pages selected her as one of the area’s 12 Most Influential Women. 

Bernie was a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Richmond Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., the Virginia Writers Club, and a graduate of Leadership Metro Richmond. 

Her son, Michael B. Simmons, and younger sister, Cathy J. Johnson, preceded Bernie in death. She leaves to cherish her memory her granddaughter Tyjaisha Garner, siblings Carla Hill, Asbury T. Johnson (Norma), Kendall H. Johnson (Cynthia), Beth Johnson-Harris (David), Bonny Johnson, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. 

Bernie’s family would like to thank the entire medical staff of the VCU Critical Care Medical Center for their tremendous support. 

Joseph Jenkins Jr. Funeral Home of Richmond, Virginia, handled arrangements.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Bernadine Ann Simmons, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, January 12, 2024

5:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

Joseph Jenkins Jr Funeral Home

2011 Grayland Ave, Richmond, VA 23220


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Funeral Service

Saturday, January 13, 2024

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Joseph Jenkins Jr Funeral Home

2011 Grayland Ave, Richmond, VA 23220

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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