The daughter of the late U.S.
Sen. Paul Simon plans to visit UIS on March 28 to discuss her life in
law and public service, from being born into a life of politics and law
to her current responsibilities as a law professor and city council member.
In a speech scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. on March 28 in the Brookens
Auditorium, Sheila Simon will discuss issues of women in politics, with
a particular focus on how her career has been influenced by the lives
and careers of her father and her mother, Jeanne.
The speech, titled, “A Life in Illinois Politics and Law: A Daughter
Carries Forward the Legacy of Jeanne and Paul Simon,” is being sponsored
by the UIS Women’s Center and the Center for State Policy and Leadership.
Lynn Otterson, director of the Women’s Center, said that the speaking
event is part of the campus’ celebration of Women’s Heritage
In a telephone interview with The Journal, Sheila Simon said that she
was brought up under the assumption that she would probably end up being
involved in politics or law in one way or another. She said that it would
be difficult to compare her childhood with one that was not based on such
an assumption because her parents were always involved with politics and
Currently a clinical assistant professor of law at the Southern Illinois
University School of Law,
Sheila Simon, daughter of the late Sen. Paul Simon, will visit the
UIS campus March 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Sheila Simon developed and
supervised the SIU School of Law’s Domestic Violence Clinic. She
worked as an assistant state’s attorney for four years, as a staff
attorney at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance for five years, and as an
attorney in private practice for three years.
In addition to working as a law professor, Sheila Simon is a member of
the Carbondale City Council. She graduated from Wittenberg University
in Springfield, Ohio, in 1983 and received her law degree from Georgetown
University in 1987. Sheila Simon and her husband, Perry Knop, have two
daughters, Reilly and Brennan. She is also a member of “Loose Gravel,”
a band local to Carbondale.
Sheila Simon said that she does not think she has filled the shoes of
her parents yet. Considering that her father and mother both accomplished
“a great deal” in their careers, Sheila Simon said that it
is ok that she has not fully carried forward their legacy.
Paul Simon, who died on Dec. 9, 2003, served in the U.S. Senate from 1984
to 1997 and sought the Democratic presidential nomination during the 1988
campaign. Prior to being elected to the senate, he served as a U.S. representative,
Illinois lieutenant governor, a state senator and a state representative.
UIS Public Relations Director Cheryl Peck told The Journal in January
2001 that Paul Simon taught at Sangamon State University, which became
UIS in 1995, for a few years after losing the Democratic primary in the
1972 race for governor. While at SSU, Paul Simon founded the Public Affairs
Reporting Program and co-founded the Illinois Issues magazine.
According to an article published in the SIUC Daily Egyptian on Feb. 21,
2000, Jeanne Hurley Simon was elected as a state representative in 1956
and was one of the first women to serve in the Illinois House of Representatives.
She met Paul during her tenure as a representative, and the two became
the first couple to marry while serving in the Illinois General Assembly.
Jeanne Simon was the chairwoman of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries
and Information Science when she died on Feb. 20, 2000, the Daily Egyptian
article said. She helped her husband campaign for president in 1987 and
1988 and wrote a book, titled Codename: Scarlet, Life on the Campaign
Trail by the Wife of a Presidential Candidate, a year later about her
experiences with the campaign.
According to Otterson, Jeanne Simon had to step aside from her role as
a state representative after having children, but she “never stopped
working for the people.” Jeanne left a legacy of her own that has
not been forgotten, but is sometimes overlooked in comparison to that
of her husband. Otterson said it is also important to note that Sheila
Simon will discuss carrying forward the legacies of both her father and
Otterson said that she decided to pursue Sheila Simon as a speaker for
Women’s Heritage Month after remembering a visit to Capitol Hill.
During her visit, Otterson noticed several 8-by-10 photographs of Sheila
and Jeanne Simon and thought, “that would be an interesting way
to grow up.” This thought, she said, went on to form the basis of
the title of Sheila Simon’s upcoming speech.
Sheila Simon said that she is looking forward to visiting Springfield
because the city “is where it’s at politically.” A regular
visitor of the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, Sheila Simon said that she
anticipates reconnecting with old friends and inspiring people she does
not know when she speaks at UIS in almost three weeks.