- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 9, 2003

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Paul Simon, the bow-tie-wearing missionary’s son who rose from crusading newspaper owner to two-term U.S. senator and presidential aspirant, died yesterday, a day after undergoing heart surgery. He was 75.

Mr. Simon’s daughter, Sheila, confirmed his death at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, said Peter Alexander, the law school dean at Southern Illinois University, where Mr. Simon started a public-policy institute after his retirement.

Mr. Simon had a single-bypass and heart-valve surgery at the hospital’s Prairie Heart Institute on Monday.

The southern Illinois Democrat’s political career began with his election to the state legislature in 1954 and culminated with his election to the U.S. Senate in 1984. He retired from Congress in 1997.

Mr. Simon announced in 1987 that he was seeking the Democratic nomination for president the following year. He suspended his campaign in April 1988 after having won only his home state’s primary.

“I leave the field of active campaigning with no regrets for having made the race,” he said, “because it has been an exhilarating experience to get to know our nation better.”

When he announced in late 1994 that he would not seek a third term in 1996, he said: “I have an obligation to the people of Illinois, to the Senate and to myself to leave the Senate while I am still eager to serve, not after I tire of serving.”

Mr. Simon was a bespectacled man with a strong reputation for honesty, a politician who began disclosing his personal finances in the 1950s. He had the sober bearing of a Sunday school teacher and wrote 13 books.

He blended fiscal conservatism and social liberalism. Raised during the Depression, the son of a Lutheran minister, he saw the great needs facing the country and how government responded through New Deal programs.

In the Senate, Mr. Simon helped overhaul the federal student loan program to enable students and their families to borrow directly from the government.

As a crusader against television violence, he successfully pushed the industry to monitor the amount of violence on the screen.

Mr. Simon was just 19 when, in 1948, he dropped out of college, borrowed $3,600 and bought a failing weekly newspaper in Troy, a town of about 1,500 across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. He became the nation’s youngest editor-publisher.

Mr. Simon was born Nov. 29, 1928, in Eugene, Ore., shortly after his parents returned from China, where his father was a missionary. He enrolled in the University of Oregon in 1945 at age 16, transferring to Dana College in Blair, Neb., in 1946 when his parents moved to southern Illinois.

After he retired from Congress in 1997, he taught at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, near his hometown of Makanda, and ran the Public Policy Institute, a bipartisan think tank he founded.

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