Bill Simon’s love of music began at an early age growing up on the banks of the Mississippi River. As a youth, he was enthralled by the sounds of jazz music he heard being played by the musicians aboard the riverboats passing through Ste. Genevieve. Thus, he began a lifelong love of music, and jazz music in particular, which lead him to a music career that would take him abroad. Throughout his life, he had the honor of being associated with the greatest musicians of the 20th century.
Achievements for Mr. Simon began early in life. After graduating high school in 1934, Mr. Simon attended Southeast Missouri Teacher’s College, and continued his education at the University of Colorado, where he earned his bachelor and master’s degrees. While at the University of Colorado, he wrote the University of Colorado Fight Song, “Go Colorado”, which is still played today. He continued his education further by studying in Fontainebleau, France, where he studied under many renowned teachers of music, and honed his skills in conducting, composition, organ, jazz piano, and the history of sacred music. Between 1936 and 1938, Mr. Simon played in bands on the S.S. Champlain and the S.S. Acquitania in order to pay passage to Europe. He joined the United States Air Force during World War II, trained as a pilot, and played piano in the Officer’s Corp in San Antonio, Texas. In 1948, Mr. Simon married Taudie Dalton, and together they worked on live radio in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1954, Mr. Simon began a 40 year career with Carl Fischer’s Music Publishing in New York City as a choral arranger, editor, and consultant. Mr. Simon composed orchestral and choral arrangements to such popular show tunes as “Annie”, “That’s Entertainment”, and “Rocky”, among numerous other arrangements. It is estimated his name is attached to over one million copies of sheet music worldwide.
In 1956, Mr. Simon was elected to full membership in the American Composers, Authors, and Publishers. In 1958, he created and conducted the choral setting of the “Preamble of the United Nations” and performed by the United Nations Singers. In 1961, he became organist and choral master for the Bloomfield Presbyterian Church on the Green, in Bloomfield, New Jersey, a position he held for 25 years. In 1963, Mr. Simon accepted a teaching position at Bloomfield College, and remained at that position for 20 years.
Mr. Simon received numerous awards in his life for his musical contributions, including a Proclamation from the State of New Jersey by Governor Christine Todd Whitman in 1999 honoring Mr. Simon’s many years as a performer, composer, conductor, and arranger of music. Mr. Simon’s signature work for our community, “Dear Olde Ste. Genevieve”, is a legacy to our city and is still performed annually by the Ste. Genevieve Municipal Band. Also in 2013, the Ste. Genevieve Board of Alderman passed a resolution that proclaimed “Dear Olde Ste. Genevieve” the official song for our city.
Mr. Simon was a faithful Christian who shared his God-given gifts of music with the world. He began in a humble community and became a world legend. His life philosophy was simple: “I believe if you do your best every time you do something, sooner or later, someone will notice.” Bill and Taudie Simon had two children, Reed and Todd Simon, who proudly represented their family at the induction ceremony. Mr. Simon passed away in 2012 at the age of 96. Todd Simon expressed in his acceptance speech for his father that Mr. Simon was aware during his last months of life of his selection into the Ste. Genevieve High School Hall of Fame, and considered his SGHS Hall of Fame selection the crowning jewel of his life.