GRAND WORTHY MATRON
Flora J. Simon
The Honorable Flora Jean Gibson Simon believes that anything worth doing is worth doing well; therefore she strives to always do her very best. She now adds to her belief that, when we have done our best, we should wait the result in peace. On January 2, 2019, she proved a piece of her best by becoming the first African American and the first female to be elected as Mayor for the city of Dumas, Arkansas. During this historical milestone, Ms. Simon led the ticket with three other candidates. Unfortunately without the majority, she faced a runoff with the incumbent Mayor, whom she defeated to become Mayor.
Grand Worthy Matron's (GWM) early life began as the second of four children born to the late Ollie and Timothy Gibson, Sr. in Dermott, Arkansas. Her parents were members of the Prince Hall Masonic Family as well as her and her siblings, who all followed in the footsteps of their parents and joined the organizations. Ms. Simon resides in Dumas, Arkansas. She is the mother of twins, Felecia and Frederick, and she has seven grandchildren. She also has two living siblings, Bettie Gammel and Deborah Gibson. Ms. Simon is a member Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Dumas and serves as assistant Sunday School Instructor and chair of the Scholarship Committee. She's an Instructor for the Regular Arkansas Baptist Congress of Christian Education. In the Congress, she is certified to teach Organizing the Church for Christian Education, Leadership Education in the Local church, Leadership in the Group, and Audio - Visual Resources in the Church.
Education and Community Service
GWM Simon is a 1966 graduate of Chicot County High School in Dermott, Arkansas where she graduated as valedictorian of her class. In 1971, she earned her Bachelor’s of Science (B.S.E.) degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, majoring in General Science and Social Studies. Ten years later, she was awarded a Master’s degree (M.S.) by the same institution; her field of specialization was Education Administration. While at the University of Arkansas, she was a member of the Arkansas Marching Razorback Band, and Tau Beta Sigma, an honorary band fraternity. She played the flute and piccolo.
She also holds a certification from the Arkansas Department of Education in Adult Education, and as a Curriculum Specialist for grades K-12, and Secondary Principal. She values continuing education and thus earned additional hours of credit in adult education and the sciences, by completing additional course work at the colleges in the University of Arkansas System, Arkansas State University, and Arkansas Tech University.
She began her teaching career in January 1971 in Carencro, Louisiana as a high school general science instructor, and taught at two other schools in Louisiana: the Forrest K. White Jr. High in Lake Charles, and the Lake Arthur High School in Lake Arthur, prior to returning to Arkansas. From 1974 until 1987, GWM Simon taught Earth Science, General Science, Physical Science, and Life Science in the Dumas, Arkansas secondary schools. In 1987, she became the Director of Adult Education for the Dumas School District and also served as the GED Examiner. She remained in this position until retirement on June 30, 2009. Beginning the year before she retired and for three years afterwards, she worked as an independent school improvement consultant with JBHM Education Consultant Firm of Jackson, MS. In January of 2011, she had a brief tenure in a new administrative field as program director for the York W. Williams Child Development Center in her hometown of Dermott, Arkansas.
GWM Simon has provided a broad range of services to professional, community, and social organizations. In November 2016, she was elected as the first Black female to the Dumas City Council for a four year term; her first political quest. Additionally, she has been the President of the Dumas Chamber of Commerce and she has served in a leadership capacity in numerous organizations, including: Past President of the Arkansas Association for Continuing and Adult Education; President of the Arkansas Association of Administrators in Adult Education, President of the South Arkansas Adult Education Administrators, Past President of the Dumas Education Association, Coordinator of the Dumas Literacy Council, Chair of the Desha County Single Parent Scholarship Fund Program, Vice Chair of the Dumas Housing Authority Commission, President of Delta Area Community Foundation, Board member Arkansas Education Association, Board member Daughters of Charity (Ascension Health), and Board member Delta Memorial Hospital. In each of these positions, she has used her life as an instrument to help others to empower themselves through education, housing, and economic empowerment.
At the age of six years, Flora Simon joined the Electa-Triumphant #348 Youth Fraternity, in Dermott, Arkansas. Her membership in the Prince Hall Family has been continuous since that time. In February 2013, Flora J. Simon was elected as the fourteenth Grand Worthy Matron for the Jurisdiction of Arkansas. Within the Order of the Eastern Star, has served on the local, district, and state, and national levels. On the local level, she served as Worthy Matron of Electa-Triumphant #348, secretary, youth sponsor, and in many other positions; on the district level, she was the youth advisor, secretary, and District Deputy Grand Matron; on the state level, she has served the Royal Grand Chapter as the Grand Lecturer, Grand Juvenile Matron, Grand Recorder, Grand Secretary, and State Director for the “Pearls of Love” a girls youth group, and Prince Hall Grand Lodge Building Clerk. On the national level, Flora served as director for the youth group - Empress of the Galaxy¹.
In addition to her membership in the Order of the Eastern Star, GWM Simon is actively involved in several Prince Hall women’s organizations. She is a member of the Shirley W. Inghram Phyllis Auxiliary in Arkansas. She is the Past Loyal Lady Ruler of the E. U. Reed Assembly #78, Order of the Golden Circle, Pine Bluff, Arkansas; and is a member of Mt. Moriah Court #9, Heroines of Jericho, Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Pine Bluff Guild #3 (also known as the Templar Crusades), in Pine Bluff, Arkansas; and has been a member of the Mohammed Court #39, Daughter of Isis, Little Rock, Arkansas. Flora Simon is serving a second tenure as President of the Phyllis Chapter. Her first term was from 2005-2008, as the fifth President.
GWM Simon enjoys listening to a variety of music, playing quiet games, facilitating events, observing nature, and traveling. She was once considered as an avid seamstress but over time that has ceased. Lately, she has made traveling her hobby. She has traveled to some parts of most states, and out of the United States to Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Puerto Rico, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Bahamas, Hawaii, U.S. Virgins Islands, and the Caribbean.
Recognitions and Awards
GWM Simon recognitions and awards have been numerous from local, state, and national organizations. Some of her awards are the: Dumas Loins Club Woman of the Year; State of Arkansas House of Representatives’ Citation; District Four Order of the Eastern Star Distinguished Leadership Award; Fred Johnson Jr. Arkansas Council of Deliberation Eagle Award for Extraordinary Service; Distinguished Leadership Award from the Academy for Leadership Training; Luther H. Black Outstanding Adult Education Administrator; Individual Achievement Award from the Governor’s Commission on Adult Literacy; Leadership Arkansas Award for Volunteerism for Community Development from Teamwork Arkansas (AP&L); and Arkansas’ Outstanding Earth Science Teacher of the Year.
¹ The Empress of the Galaxy was a youth group for girls sponsored by the Prince Hall Conference of Grand Matrons and Grand Patrons; it no longer exists.