William E. Simon Biography


November 27, 1927 - June 3, 2000

William E. Simon enjoyed legendary success in American business, public affairs and government.

Mr. Simon was born in Paterson, New Jersey, where he spent most of his childhood. After service in the U.S. Army, he graduated from Lafayette College in 1952 and joined Union Securities the same year. He served as Vice President of Weeden & Company before becoming senior partner in charge of the Government and Municipal Bond departments at Soloman Brothers, where he served on the firm's seven-member executive committee.

Appointed Deputy Secretary of the Treasury in 1973, Mr. Simon also became the first Administrator of the Federal Energy Office later that year. In 1974, President Nixon appointed him 63rd Secretary of the Treasury, a post to which he was re-appointed by President Ford and which he held until 1977.

Following government service, Mr. Simon co-founded Wesray Corporation, a successful pioneer in mergers and acquisitions. Seven years later he launched WSGP International, which concentrated on investments in real estate and financial service organizations. In 1988, he established William E. Simon & Sons, a global merchant bank. During his remarkable career, Mr. Simon served on the boards of over 30 companies including Xerox, Citibank, Halliburton and United Technologies. In recognition of his visionary leadership in business, finance and public service, the Graduate School of Management at the University of Rochester was renamed the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration in 1986.

Mr. Simon was an active member of the United States Olympic Committee for over 30 years. He served as Treasurer and later as President of the U.S. Olympic Committee for the four-year period which included the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. From 1985-1997, he served as the first Chairman of the U.S. Olympic Foundation, created with the profits from the Los Angeles games.

As a man of faith and an active Knight of Malta, Mr. Simon considered the opportunity to serve those less fortunate than he a God-given privilege and responsibility. In the last years of his life, he served as a Eucharistic minister to patients, many of whom were destitute and terminally ill, at several hospitals. He called this work "the most important thing that I do or have ever done." In 1996, Mr. Simon was the first recipient of the Blessed Hyacinth Cormier Award for Outstanding Catholic Leadership. In May 1999, he received the Ignatian Medal from Gregorian University in Rome, as well as an honorary doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Mr. Simon was a well-known philanthropist, and provided hundreds of scholarships for underprivileged students at both the high school and college level. He served on the boards of numerous colleges and universities, and received over 20 honorary degrees.

Mr. Simon was committed to the American heritage of constitutional government and private enterprise. He sought to strengthen this heritage during his 23-year tenure as President of the John M. Olin Foundation and as a trustee of several think tanks, including The Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution. He was the author of two best-selling books on the theme of freedom, A Time for Truth (1978) and A Time for Action (1980).

Mr. Simon was married to 45 years to Carol Girard Simon, who died in 1995.  He is survived by their seven children and 26 grandchildren.  His second wife, Tonia Adams Simon, passed away in summer 2020.