6,000 attend service for Paul Simon
By KEVIN MCDERMOTT
Published: Sunday, Dec. 14 2003
Ill. - Former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, the baritone-voiced conscience
of Illinois politics for a generation, was laid to rest Sunday to
of state and national leaders who said his sober courage and integrity
ahead of their time.
" I don't know how many bow ties there are in heaven, but there's one more
than there used to be," former President Bill Clinton said in a
message read by
U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., after snow in New York prevented
traveling to Carbondale for his scheduled main eulogy at the Carbondale
said Clinton called Simon "one of the most remarkable public
servants I ever knew."
Metro East-area newspaperman, presidential candidate and,
finally, elder statesman died Tuesday in Springfield, Ill., of
after heart surgery. He was 75. He was eulogized and buried near
home base of Carbondale, where he'd settled to teach after leaving
six years ago.
Illinois University basketball arena was packed with an estimated
6,000 mourners for the memorial service, many of them wearing
bow ties in
homage to Simon's famed accessory. They sat before a stage
fringed by large
black drapes and crowded with flowers and U.S. and Illinois
His life was a model of how to live," said Sam Goldman, a Carbondale
who, like many of the speakers, lauded Simon for his lifelong
political and social reform. "Paul's rich, stentorian voice is now
were no direct references during the service Sunday to the news that
morning that Saddam Hussein had been captured. The closest
mention to it was
when the Rev. Joseph Brown, a Simon colleague at SIU who
culturally and religiously diverse service, explained to
the audience that a
Muslim speaker from an area mosque who had been scheduled
to speak wouldn't be
there only because he had been unable to attend.
simple, bare wood coffin - his specific request - stood in front of
stage as some of the biggest names in Illinois and national
nearby, including Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., the U.S.
Senate minority leader,
and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
" He listened to his inner voice.. He couldn't have cared less about the
of politics. ... He cared about the game of life," said Kennedy,
Simon was often allied on liberal issues during Simon's
12 years in the Senate.
He proved you didn't have to be from Massachusetts to be a liberal," Kennedy
joked. "... He was the perfect blend of idealism and grass-roots
understood the importance of connecting directly with
the people he
went on to compare Simon's moral courage to that of his own
assassinated brother, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. "We miss you, Paul," Kennedy
said. "We always will."
Blagojevich compared Simon favorably to another revered historic
figure who, like Simon, was born elsewhere but
eventually settled in Illinois
and came to personify the state.
Like Abraham Lincoln before him ... Paul Simon leaves that same legacy" of
political courage and principles, said Blagojevich. He credited Simon
giving moral force to the state's newly enacted
political reform law and called
him "the conscience of Illinois."
was born in 1928 in Eugene, Ore. His parents, the Rev. Martin and Ruth
Simon, were Lutheran missionaries. At 19, Simon
dropped out of college to take
over a newspaper in Troy, Ill. His Troy Tribune
made him the youngest newspaper
publisher in the country, and gave him his
first taste of the reformist
activism that would define his journalistic
and, later, political careers.
Simon's honesty and reformist fervor "infuriated the crime syndicates
Madison County," and later had the same effect on crooked politicians
Springfield and, later, Washington, Durbin,
Simon's protege and successor in
the Senate, said during his eulogy.
political career began with his election to the Legislature in 1954,
included a term as lieutenant governor and
culminated with his election to the
U.S. Senate in 1984. He retired from Congress
in 1997. He was in his first
Senate term when he sought the Democratic
nomination for president. He halted
his campaign in April 1988 after winning
only his home state's primary.
Simon retired from Congress in 1997. He taught
at SIU and founded the Public
Policy Institute, a bipartisan think tank.
From there, he lectured and lobbied
on ethics, helped lead the reform efforts
for the state's death penalty system
and tried to persuade Fidel Castro to visit
the Carbondale campus.
He died Tuesday at St. John's Hospital in
Springfield of complications from
surgery he underwent Monday to repair a damaged
heart valve. The cause of death
was extensive bowel ischemia, a rare and
usually fatal event in which blood
flow is cut off to the intestines, causing
intestinal toxins to infect the rest
of the body.
first wife, Jeanne Hurley Simon, a former Illinois state
representative, preceded him in death in
February 2000. The next year, Simon,
at 72, married Patricia Derge, the widow
of former SIUC president David Derge.
Simon also is survived by a daughter, Sheila
Simon, of Carbondale, a son,
Martin Simon of Crofton, Md., and a stepdaughter,
He didn't teach me how to be a good person - he showed me," Martin
of his father in his closing eulogy.
the service, Simon was buried in a private ceremony at Rowan Cemetery
the Carbondale area.