Candace S. Simms, a public housing director and devout Episcopalian, dies

Candace S. Simms was an active communicant of St. James Episcopal Church for 70 years.

Candace S. Simms, who worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for five decades and was a community activist and longtime active communicant of St. James Episcopal Church, died of cancer Aug. 28 at Gilchrist Center Baltimore. The Ashburton resident was 72.

“Candy and I were both friends and colleagues in public service,” said former Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who is now president of the University of Baltimore. “She was so devoted to HUD, not only just for Baltimore but other cities across the country. She really believed in public service and that HUD could have a huge impact on the quality of life in cities.”


Rheba G. Gwaltney was a close friend and HUD colleague for 40 years.

“As a person, Candace was steadfast, very disciplined, and had a strong work ethic and attended to the needs of those she served,” said Ms. Gwaltney, who retired in 2012 as a lender-monitor in HUD’s Single Family Housing Program. “She was fair as a supervisor and as an administrator, but she had a light side and a sense of humor, and believed in doing things that were uplifting.”


Candace Lisette Scott, daughter of Ronald David “Dave” Scott, a supervisor at what was then the U.S. Post Office, and Elsie Lee Brady Scott, an educator who worked with the deaf and hard of hearing, was born in Baltimore and raised on Ruxton Avenue in the Coppin Heights neighborhood and later moved with her family to Sequoia Avenue in Ashburton.

After graduating in 1967 from Western High School, Mrs. Simms earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a physics minor in 1971 from what was then known as Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, and obtained a master’s degree in 1972 in economics from Tufts University.

Following graduation from Tufts, Mrs. Simms commenced an internship with HUD, and upon completion of her master’s degree, she was hired as a housing development branch analyst in HUD’s Boston field office. There she held a variety of positions until 1975, when she transferred to the agency’s Baltimore office to work in a housing branch programs position.

While in Baltimore, she was promoted to chief of the Housing Programs Branch, and in 1986 was named housing development division director.

“In 1998, Mrs. Simms was promoted to Public Housing Director where she managed the Maryland and West Virginia Public Housing Program Center (”PC”) in the Baltimore Public Housing Hub office,” according to a family biographical profile of Mrs. Simms. “She provided administration and technical direction of the public housing grant programs to 62 housing agencies in the states of Maryland and West Virginia.”

Mrs. Simms joined a HUD national review team providing assessments to housing authorities throughout the United States. This detail led to several other local housing agency reviews that required travel to Louisiana, Texas and Illinois. She remained in this role from 1998 to 2008.

The culmination of her HUD career was at the agency’s national headquarters in Washington from 2008 until her death, where she was a program liaison specialist for HUD’s Public and Indian Housing, Office of Field Operations.

After the beginning of the pandemic, she shifted to situational telework in the Baltimore field office and then permanent telework from her Ashburton residence, where she and her husband of 49 years, Stuart “Stu” Simms, an attorney, who was the former Baltimore City state’s attorney and secretary of Public Safety and Juvenile Services, had lived for more than 40 years.


The couple met on a blind date in 1967 while he was a student at Gilman School and she at Western. The date led to a multiyear relationship that continued through high school, college and graduate school, and culminated in their 1973 marriage.

“I was blessed to have her by my side for 49 years,” Mr. Simms said.

Mr. Schmoke said: “Candy and Stu were a great Baltimore love story.”

Mrs. Simms was a devout lifelong Episcopalian.

She was an active communicant of St. James Episcopal Church for 70 years, where she began worshipping there with her parents as a young girl. When she returned to Baltimore from Boston in 1975, she reengaged with the Lafayette Square church.

She was a member of the Fellowship of St. Francis Guild where she enjoyed supporting the efforts of St. James’ youth and young adults. She served as a member of the rector search committee that brought the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, who is now the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, to St. James where he was rector from 1988 to 2000.


Mrs. Simms served as a member of the church’s finance and audit committees and had been editor of the parish’s monthly newsletter. She also chaired the discernment committee that coached seminary students on congregational care and church administration during the later phases of their seminary work.

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She also served on the diocesan level of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and various auxiliary and standing committees aimed at developing the discernment process for aspiring Episcopal priests.

For many years, she was a member of the advisory board of The Children’s Guild, Episcopal Social Ministries and the former Liberty Medical Center’s Urban Medical Institute. She also was a member of the executive committee and treasurer for Western High School’s Class of 1967 50th reunion and was a member of the planning team for its upcoming 55th.

A cornerstone of Mrs. Simms was her strong support for women’s leadership development. She was inducted into The Harbor City chapter of The Links Inc., an international women’s service nonprofit organization, that was established in 1946. She held several offices with the chapter, including president.

“Links was very important to her,” Mr. Schmoke said. “She was a stalwart leader in her own spiritual way. She and Stu were quiet people. They were never boisterous but got things done.”

Mrs. Simms enjoyed visiting her grandchildren, attending the symphony and traveling with her husband to various cities to see her former childhood friend and grade school classmate, actress Anna Deavere Smith, perform in off-Broadway productions, family members said. Other interests included mid-Atlantic outlet shopping and vacationing at the beach with family and friends.


A family hour and organizational services will begin at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 24 at her church, at West Lafayette and North Arlington avenues, with a Mass of Resurrection to be offered at noon.

In addition to her son, Mrs. Simms is survived by two sons, Marcus Simms of Marietta, Georgia, and Paul Simms of Nashville, Tennessee, and two grandchildren.