WILLIAM G. SIMON
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William G. (Bill) Simon passed away Saturday, Feb. 22, in Cozumel, Mexico.
Bill was a resident of Green Valley, Ariz., formerly of Laramie, Wyo., Berkeley, Calif,, and a native of Cleveland, Ohio. He was 82 years old. He is survived by his wife, Mary, of Green Valley; sons Robert and Philip, of Longmont, Colo. and Portsmouth, Va., their wives Patricia and Heidi; stepdaughter Kristine Hamm; stepsons Hunter Wangen and Erik Wangen; grandchildren Natasha, Benjamin, Frankie, Katrina, Thomas, Nicholas, Melissa, William Grant, and Max; a great-grandchild, Jackson; and nieces and nephews Monica, Elizabeth, Marc, Joel, Robert, William and Patricia. He was preceded in death by his wife Frances L. Wilcox in 1998, and brother Robert. He is also survived by brother and sister-in-law Thomas Wilcox of Los Angeles, and Mary Silver of Santa Cruz, Calif.
Bill was born to Harold Simon, a baker, and Elsie Simon, of Cleveland, Ohio. Bill grew up in depression-era poverty in Cleveland. He attended community college as an engineering student, after which he served in the U.S. Air Force following the Korean War, as a navigator on B26 and B57 bombers. B57 bombers were the Air Force's first jet-powered, high-altitude tactical bomber.
After leaving Air Force service, Bill completed his college degree in physics, and went on to earn master's and Ph.D. diplomas in nuclear physics from the University of California at Berkeley. It was there that he met and married San Francisco native Frances. Bill loved the Sierra Nevada, and spent his free time exploring Yosemite or sailing the bay in a sailboat he built himself. They moved to Laramie, Wyo. in 1964, where they raised their two children, and where he remained as a professor in the physics department of the University of Wyoming until his retirement in 1994.
Bill also conducted physics research at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Alberta, where he served on the design team of the TRIUMF cyclotron at the Canadian National Laboratory in Victoria, British Columbia.
Bill enjoyed living in Wyoming, taking advantage of opportunities to ski, fish, explore the mountains of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Alberta, and British Columbia, and to pan for gold. He spent as much time as possible camping, often camping for entire summers, and during winter breaks, skiing into the mountains to enjoy camping even in temperatures as cold as 35 degrees below zero.
An avid do-it-yourselfer, Bill discovered pottery making while living in Wyoming and New Mexico. Inspired by the pottery of Hopi master Maria Martinez and American master potter Ken Ferguson, with whom he became friends, what started as a hobby eventually became a passion. He learned the arts of mining and milling clays, slips, and glazes from Carl Judson of Fort Collins, Colo. Bill's family ate off of plates and drank from cups thrown by Bill on a potter's wheel he built from scratch, fired in kilns he built himself, made with clay which he mined, mixed and milled. His passion resulted in a little business supplying potters and modeling clays to the university art department, and building kilns for professional potters and friends.
Following Frances' death in 1999, Bill re-discovered an enthusiasm for golf, which he had played as a teenager, working as a caddy in Cleveland. He resolved to move to a place where the golfing was good, and settled on Green Valley.
It was in Green Valley that he met and married Mary Wangen. Mary was an inspiration to Bill, giving him a new lease on life. Mary and Bill continued to live in Green Valley, where they were members of the San Ignacio Golf Club. Bill enjoyed early morning golf with fellow enthusiasts, and the social life offered by Green Valley.
Together, Bill and Mary traveled extensively, enjoying both cultural opportunities and golfing challenges. Favorite destinations included Kauai, California, and Mexico. Mary gave Bill a bread cookbook, which he used in typical enthusiastic, scientific fashion to experiment with breads of all kinds for family and friends.
Bill made many friends in Green Valley but never forgot old friendships, maintaining connections with people from throughout his life, including Ray Kunselman of Green Valley (Berkeley and Laramie), Art Denison (Berkeley and Laramie), Stu Aarons (Laramie), Jerry Olson (Los Alamos), Phil Fodrell (Laramie), Dick Cook (Cleveland/Alaska), and many other valued friends.
Bill was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, whose life was enriched by the people whom he loved, and who enriched their lives in return. He passed away on a beach in Cozumel, living to the end the adventure that he created for himself and for those around him.
A remembrance of William's life with family and friends, will be held on Saturday, March 8, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Simon residence. In lieu of flowers, the family requests any donations be made in William's name to the
, P.O. Box 78851, Phoenix, AZ 85062-8851.
Published in Green Valley News & Sun on Mar. 5, 2014