By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities family is mourning the loss of a son and brother.

Joe Simons was just 50 years old when a form of muscular dystrophy combined with COVID-19 complications took his life this summer. In our ongoing Faces of COVID series, Liz Collin found a man who never complained about the hand he was dealt and celebrated each day he had.

As a boy, Joe Simons dreamed of being an actor. With a big personality and as a powerful tenor, he for years performed as a singing waiter.

“When he smiled he lit up the room,” his stepmother, Betsy Simons said.

“In Joe’s earlier years he had a fantastic voice,” she added.

But, born with a rare progressive disorder known as Myotonic Dystrophy, Joe suffered setbacks in his 30’s that limited his movements and meant his muscles no longer worked the way they should.

“Both Joe and his sister had it and his mother,” his father, Nick Simons said.

Sadly, Nick Simons lost his daughter and his first wife to the disease. Still, his beloved son believed in living what life he had left.

“If you can believe it in all the time I knew Joe I never heard him complain,” Betsy said.

“Joe just loved his birthday,” Nick Simons said.

Every September they would mark the milestone with a big celebration. When Joe turned 50 last fall, his family feared the year ahead.

“He just began to lose energy,” his stepmom said.

After a bad fall, Joe contracted COVID-19 at a rehab center in April. He ended up at Bethesda Hospital struggling to breathe.

“With the disease, he couldn’t get the oxygen he needed,” his dad said.

Joe died just two days later. His family says at peace with the time he had.

“He was just a good, good man,” his stepmom said.

Joe Simon’s family was able to have a small mass in July to remember him.

If you would like to share any memories of someone you’ve lost to COVID-19, please send an email to

Liz Collin