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The Honorable Sandra A. Simms

Judge Sandra A. Simms was born on July 26, 1948 in Chicago, Illinois to Vera and Gerald Nuckolls, Sr. She graduated from Hyde Park High School before attending and graduating from the University of Illinois at Chicago with her B.A. degree in political science and sociology. Simms later obtained her J.D. degree from DePaul University College of Law in 1978.

Simms worked as a flight attendant for United Airlines from 1972 until 1977 when she entered DePaul University College of Law. After graduating with her J.D. degree in 1978, Simms and her husband, Hank, moved to Hawaii. In 1980, Simms was hired as a clerk for Yoshimi Hayashi, chief judge of the newly created Hawaii State Intermediate Court of Appeals. She remained here until 1982 when she was made deputy corporation counsel for the city and county of Honolulu. In this capacity, she served as legal counsel to various city agencies and commissions including the police commission, the civil service commission, public works, the fire department, and the family support division. Simms was also hired as a staff attorney for the department of the Attorney General’s Office of Information and Practices. In 1991, Simms became the first African American female judge in Hawaii upon her appointment to the District Court of the First Circuit. Three years later, she was appointed Circuit Court Judge for the First Judicial Circuit by Governor John David Waiheʻe, III. Simms retired as a circuit court judge in 2004. In 2009, she became an adjunct lecturer in the criminal justice program at Chaminade University. She published Tales from the Bench: Essays on Life and Justice in 2012.

Simms is a member of Soroptimist International of Waikiki, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the African American Lawyers Association of Hawaii, and Links Incorporated, of which she was president. She also received a number of governmental appointments, including to the State Council on Mental Health and to the board of directors of Mental Health America of Hawaii.

Simms and her husband reside in Hawaii and have three adult children, Sharon, Richard, and Vera.

The Honorable Sandra A. Simms was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 11, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.138

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/11/2019

Last Name

Simms

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Arlene

Schools

Hyde Park Academy High School

University of Illinois at Chicago

DePaul University College of Law

William W. Carter Elementary School

Betsy Ross Elementary School

Haven School

First Name

Sandra

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

SIM15

Favorite Season

All Seasons Except Winter

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Don't View Today Through The Lens Of Yesterday

Speakers Bureau Region State

Hawaii

Birth Date

6/26/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Honolulu

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Judge Sandra A. Simms (1948- ) was the first African American female judge in Hawaii upon being appointed to the First Circuit’s District Court in 1991.

Employment

United Airlines

Hawaii State Intermediate Court of Appeals

City/County of Honolulu

Attorney General; Office of Information & Practices

Hawaii First Circuit District Court

Hawaii First Circuit Circuit Court

Chaminade University

Favorite Color

Red

Bettye Jo Harris

Program administrator Bettye Jo Harris was born on February 24, 1934 in Arkansas to Cornelia Kilgore. After graduating from Nevada County Training School in 1950, Harris attended Arkansas Baptist College before transferring to Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal (AM&N) College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. She went on to receive her M.S. degree in public health from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

Harris clerked at the Internal Revenue Service in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before joining the University of Minnesota department of admissions as a clerk. She went on to serve as an administrator for the AM&N College department of agriculture and as a program developer for the University of Hawaii School of Public Health. From 1969 to 1972, Harris and her family lived in Morocco and Tunisia, where Harris’ husband, entomologist Ernest Harris, served as the coordinator of the North Africa Regional Mediterranean Fruit Fly Suppression Program. Harris later joined the Arthritis Foundation Hawaii as a health educator; and, in the 1980s, she served as executive director of the Kalihi-Palama Immigrant Service Center. Harris then became an editor of the Afro Hawaii News, during which she led the campaign to establish the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in Hawai’i. In the 1990s, she served as executive director of the residential substance abuse treatment center Hina Mauka.

An active member of St. Christopher’s Church, Harris served as deputy Diocese of Hawai’i from 1982 to 2006. She served on the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee (JPIC) and finance committee of the Episcopal Church Executive Council. Harris was elected vice president of the Hawaii Diocesan Council in 2000. In 2012, Harris served on the Honolulu African American Film Festival Committee. She also served as the chair of fundraising for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

In 2011, Harris was appointed to the Canon of the Episcopal Church, Dioceses of Hawai’i by Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick. In 2013, she received the Distinguished Service Award for Lifetime Achievement from the NAACP of Hawai’i.

Harris married the late Ernest Harris on April 11, 1953. They had three children: Mark, Tanya, and Greg.

Bettye Jo Harris was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 13, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.141

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/13/2019

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Jo

Schools

Nevada County Training School

Arkansas Baptist College

AM&N College

University of Hawaii at Manoa

First Name

Bettye

HM ID

HAR56

Favorite Quote

Lord Have Mercy

Speakers Bureau Region State

Hawaii

Birth Date

2/24/1934

Speakers Bureau Region City

Honolulu

Favorite Food

Collard Greens, Ham Hocks, and Corn Bread

Short Description

Program administrator Bettye Jo Harris (1934- ) worked at the University of Minnesota department of admissions, Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal College department of agriculture, and the University of Hawaii School of Public Health.

Employment

Spiegal Department Store

Internal Revenue Service

University of Minnesota Admissions

AM&N College Department of Agriculture

Arthritis Foundation Hawaii

Kalihi-Palama Immigrant Service Center

Hina Mauka

Favorite Color

Purple