STL Today.com

6,000 attend service for Paul Simon
By KEVIN MCDERMOTT
Published: Sunday, Dec. 14 2003

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, the baritone-voiced conscience
of Illinois politics for a generation, was laid to rest Sunday to the accolades
of state and national leaders who said his sober courage and integrity were
ahead of their time.

" I don't know how many bow ties there are in heaven, but there's one more there
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 Clinton from
traveling to Carbondale for his scheduled main eulogy at the Carbondale funeral
service.

Durbin said Clinton called Simon "one of the most remarkable public
servants I ever knew."

The crusading Metro East-area newspaperman, presidential candidate and,
finally, elder statesman died Tuesday in Springfield, Ill., of complications
after heart surgery. He was 75. He was eulogized and buried near his adopted
home base of Carbondale, where he'd settled to teach after leaving the Senate
six years ago.

The Southern 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 flags.

" His life was a model of how to live," said Sam Goldman, a Carbondale friend
who, like many of the speakers, lauded Simon for his lifelong commitment to
political and social reform. "Paul's rich, stentorian voice is now silent."

There 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 officiated the
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.

Simon's simple, bare wood coffin - his specific request - stood in front of the
stage as some of the biggest names in Illinois and national politics sat
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 games
of politics. ... He cared about the game of life," said Kennedy, with whom
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 politics. He
understood the importance of connecting directly with the people he
represented."

Kennedy 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."

Gov. Rod 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 for
giving moral force to the state's newly enacted political reform law and called
him "the conscience of Illinois."

Simon 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 based in
Madison County," and later had the same effect on crooked politicians in
Springfield and, later, Washington, Durbin, Simon's protege and successor in
the Senate, said during his eulogy.

Simon's 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.

Simon's 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, Jennie Derge.
" He didn't teach me how to be a good person - he showed me," Martin Simon said
of his father in his closing eulogy.

After the service, Simon was buried in a private ceremony at Rowan Cemetery in
the Carbondale area.

Reporter Kevin McDermott
E-mail: kmcdermott@post-dispatch.com
Phone: 217-782-4912