Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Passing of John Y. Simon

Please see below for this sad news from the Ulysses S. Grant Association. Mr. Simon was an asset to the Civil War world and will be missed...


We regret to announce that John Y. Simon, editor of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant and executive director of the Ulysses S. Grant Association, died in Carbondale on July 8, 2008.

For more than four decades, Dr. Simon oversaw the publication of thirty volumes of the Grant Papers and the preparation of Volume 31, which will close out the chronological series. He wrote extensively on Grant, Lincoln, and the Civil War, lectured widely to audiences small and large, and participated in countless roundtables, panels, and forums dedicated to examining that crucial period in our nation's history.

A founder of the Association for Documentary Editing, Dr. Simon helped modernize editing practices and mentored younger editors who sought a model for their own projects. He took seriously his role as Grant's editor, and viewed the Grant Papers as the equivalent of a portable presidential library. The project receives a steady stream of Grant-related queries, from journalists and local historians to children writing grammar school papers and callers hoping to verify a family link to the General. Dr. Simon treated all with dignity, humor, and respect. He had a loyal corps of admirers who sought his time for treasured conversations about history and a variety of other subjects, including his lifelong affliction as a Chicago Cubs fan.

Dr. Simon also relished his dual role as history professor at Southern Illinois University. Over forty-four years, his courses on the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Illinois history remained popular with generations of students, many of whom stopped by to see him years afterward on campus visits. He took great pleasure in these reunions and enjoyed introducing the visitors to his staff colleagues. His lectures were often humorous and sometimes pointed, livened by wry observations and colorful examples. He preferred to inspire as much as instruct, and he was never stingy with grades, but he left a lasting impression on his listeners.

John Y. Simon's well-honed sense of historical skepticism served him well in his long career. His skill and tenacity in questioning accepted truths and conjectured facts resulted in the exposure of more than one historical fraud, and taught those who worked under him an invaluable lesson in open-mindedness and persistence. He leaves his legacy on every page of the Grant Papers, in every obscure correspondent whose name and circumstances were painstakingly hunted down and verified, and forever preserved as part of our nation's historical record. He will be missed.

All questions and inquiries related to the Association should be directed to:
Frank J. Williams, President
Ulysses S. Grant Association
300 Switch Road
Hope Valley, RI 02832
(401) 364-3642
(401) 539-7979 (Fax)

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