William E. Simon

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William E. Simon
63rd United States Secretary of the Treasury
In office
May 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
PresidentRichard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Preceded byGeorge Shultz
Succeeded byW. Michael Blumenthal
Director of the Federal Energy Office
In office
December 4, 1973 – May 9, 1974
PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded byJohn Love (Energy Policy Office)
Succeeded byJohn C. Sawhill
President of the United States Olympic Committee
In office
Preceded byRobert Kane
Succeeded byJack Kelly Jr.
Personal details
William Edward Simon

(1927-11-27)November 27, 1927
Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedJune 3, 2000(2000-06-03) (aged 72)
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
Resting placeLaurel Grove Memorial Park
Political partyRepublican
Carol Girard
(m. 1950; died 1995)

Tonia Adams Donnelley
(m. 1996)
Children7, including Bill
EducationLafayette College (BA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army

William Edward Simon (November 27, 1927 – June 3, 2000) was an American businessman and philanthropist who served as the 63rd United States Secretary of the Treasury. He became the Secretary of the Treasury on May 9, 1974, during the Nixon administration. After Nixon resigned, Simon was reappointed by President Gerald Ford and served until 1977 when President Jimmy Carter took office. Outside of government, he was a successful businessman and philanthropist. The William E. Simon Foundation carries on this legacy. He styled himself as a strong advocate of laissez-faire capitalism. He wrote, "There is only one social system that reflects the sovereignty of the individual: the free-market, or capitalist, system".[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Simon was born in Paterson, New Jersey, on November 27, 1927, the son of Eleanor (née Kearns) and Charles Simon Jr., an insurance executive.[2] He attended Blair Academy and graduated from Newark Academy, where he focused more on sports than scholastic pursuits.[3] After service in the infantry of the US Army, he received his B.A. in 1952 from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. There, he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Rho Chapter). In his later life, Simon was a member of the board of trustees from 1972 to 1973.[4]

He began his career with Union Securities in 1952. He served as vice president of Weeden & Co. before he became the senior partner in charge of the Government and Municipal Bond Departments at Salomon Brothers, where he was a member of the firm's seven-man Executive Committee.

Federal government service[edit]

A meeting of Nixon Administration economic advisors and cabinet members on May 7, 1974. Clockwise from Richard Nixon: George Shultz, James T. Lynn, Alexander Haig, Roy Ash, Herbert Stein, and William E. Simon.

At the time of his nomination as Treasury Secretary, Simon was serving as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, a post he had held from January 22, 1973. As Deputy Secretary, he supervised the Nixon administration's program to restructure and improve U.S. financial institutions. He also served as the first Administrator of the Federal Energy Office. From December 4, 1973, Simon simultaneously launched and administered the Federal Energy Administration at the height of the oil embargo. As such he became known as the high-profile "Energy Czar",[5] and represented a revitalization of the "czar" term in U.S. politics. He also chaired the President's Oil Policy Committee and was instrumental in revising the mandatory oil import program in April 1973. Simon was a member of the President's Energy Resources Council and continued to have major responsibility for coordinating both domestic and international energy policy.

In August 1974, only three months after Simon became Secretary of the Treasury, President Nixon resigned. Simon was asked to continue to serve at Treasury by President Gerald R. Ford Jr., who shortly afterward appointed him chairman of the Economic Policy Board and chief spokesman for the administration on economic issues.

On April 8, 1975, President Ford also named him chairman of the newly created East-West Foreign Trade Board, established under the authority of the Trade Act of 1974.

In 1977, Simon received the Alexander Hamilton Award, the Treasury Department's highest honor. In 1976, while serving as Secretary of the Treasury, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt presented Simon with the Collar of the Republic/Order of the Nile. Simon's term as Secretary of the Treasury ended on January 20, 1977.

As Treasury Secretary, Simon claimed to support free markets and to spurn government policies that either subsidized or penalized businesses. In Simon's own words:

Throughout the last century the attachment of businessmen to free enterprise has weakened dramatically as they discovered they could demand – and receive – short-range advantages from the state ... I watched with incredulity as businessmen ran to the government in every crisis, whining for handouts or protection from the very competition that has made this system so productive.[6]

Later business career[edit]

Simon attempted to purchase controlling interest in the Baltimore Orioles from Jerold Hoffberger for $12 million, but it aroused fears that he was going to move the franchise to Washington, D.C. Negotiations which began in the summer of 1978 ended when he withdrew his offer on February 5, 1979. He bitterly complained, "Mr. Hoffberger wants to play both ends against the middle. Well, he can forget this end. I think at this point and at this time the game is over. He has damaged the merchandise and acted in bad faith. I think I've been played dirty pool everywhere to Sunday."[7] The Orioles were acquired at the same price six months later on August 2 by Edward Bennett Williams who had represented Simon in those negotiations.[8]

Simon was a pioneer of the leveraged buyout (LBO) in the 1980s. Following government service, Simon was a Vice Chairman at Blyth Eastman Dillon for three years, He and his partner, then co-founded with Ray Chambers, a tax accountant, Wesray Capital Corporation (Simon contributing the "Wes" and Chambers contributing the "ray" based on his initials), an LBO firm that bought and sold, among others, the Gibson Greeting Card Company, Anchor Glass, and the Simmons Mattress Company, typically investing tiny fractions of their own money and including significant debt to complete the purchase from prior shareholders, and then selling the companies whole or piecemeal after making changes that "often included job cutbacks and other short-term cost-reduction measures.".[9] In 1982, Wesray invested approximately $1 million in equity capital (with Simon contributing $330,000) and borrowed another $79 million to take private a Cincinnati-based greeting card company, Gibson Greetings, for $80 million. Eighteen months later, the company was taken public again, with a value of $290 million, and Simon's $330,000 investment was worth $66 million.

In 1984, he launched WSGP International, which concentrated on investments in real estate and financial service organizations in the western United States and on the Pacific Rim. In 1988, together with sons William E. Simon Jr. and J. Peter Simon, he founded William E. Simon & Sons, a global merchant bank with offices in New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong. The firm is now[when?] extensively involved in providing venture capital. In 1990, he partnered with several investors to form Catterton-Simon Partners, a private equity firm focused on beverages and other consumer products, which today is known as Catterton Partners.

In the Anchor Glass case, Simon made millions more through deals with the company wherein the company leased its land, buildings, and equipment from Simon. Wesray also received banking fees for handling the subsequent purchase by Anchor of Midland Glass Company. Anchor Glass also bought casualty, liability, employee health and benefit insurance from a brokerage firm partially owned by Simon. The Anchor Glass corporate headquarters in Tampa was leased from Simon. Anchor Glass later admitted in an SEC filing, that "these arrangements ... were not the result of arm's length bargaining ... [and] were not ... favorable to the company". Anchor Glass was finally bought by a Mexican company, Vitro, S.A.[10]

Simmons Mattress Company, a company founded in 1886, was bought by Wesray and partners bought in 1986 for $120 million and sold it in 1989 for $241 million.[11]

By the late 1980s, Forbes magazine was estimating Simon's wealth at $300 million.

During his business career, Simon served on the boards of over thirty companies including Xerox, Citibank, Halliburton, Dart & Kraft, and United Technologies.

In 2017, William E. Simon & Sons merged with Massy Quick & Company in an all-equity transaction.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Simon was a resident of Harding Township, New Jersey.[13] The superyacht Itasca was owned by Simon, the first such yacht to pass through the Northwest Passage, followed by a visit to Antarctica.[14]

He was married first to Carol Girard in 1950. William and Carol Simon had two sons and five daughters (Bill, J. Peter, Mary Beth, Carol Leigh, Aimee, Julie Ann and Johanna) and 27 grandchildren. She died in 1995. Simon married his second wife, Tonia Adams Donnelley in 1996.

Simon died of complications of pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 72, on June 3, 2000, in Santa Barbara, California. He was buried in Laurel Grove Memorial Park, Totowa, New Jersey. One of his sons, Bill Simon, was the Republican nominee for governor of California in 2002. A daughter, Mary Beth Simon, was married to Dana Streep, brother of actress Meryl Streep.

U.S. Olympic Committee[edit]

Simon was an active member of the United States Olympic Committee for many years. He served as treasurer from 1977 to 1981 and as President of the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1981 to 1985, which included the 1984 Games in Sarajevo and Los Angeles. He chaired the U.S. Olympic Foundation, created with the profits of the Los Angeles games, from 1985 through 1997, and was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1991. An additional athletics-related honor came on October 11, 1975, when Simon threw out the first pitch of the 1975 World Series at Boston's Fenway Park on behalf of President Ford.

Simon received numerous awards during his career in sports. Among them are the Olympic Torch and the Olympic Order, the highest honors, respectively, of the United States Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee. Simon served as an officer or on the board of the Jesse Owens Foundation, the Basketball Hall of Fame, the National Tennis Foundation and Hall of Fame, the U.S. Amateur Boxing Foundation, the Women's Sports Foundation, and the World Cup '94 Organizing and Executive Committees.


At the US Military Academy at West Point, he established the William E. Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic and at the US Air Force Academy, he established the William E. Simon Center for Strategic Studies, as well as a Simon professorship.

In 1976, Simon received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[15]

In 1978, Simon and Irving Kristol founded The Institute For Education Affairs which as a result of a merger with the Madison Center became the Madison Center for Educational Affairs in 1990.

Simon served as President of the John M. Olin Foundation and as trustee of The John Templeton Foundation. He has also served on the boards of many of America's premier think tanks, including The Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution. He was the author of two best-selling books, A Time for Truth in 1978 (ghostwritten by libertarian author Edith Efron) and A Time for Action in 1980.

In recognition of his 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.[16] That same year, Simon received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[17]

Simon Sr. was, according to an account in an October 26, 2007 Washington Post profile of his son, William Simon Jr., "a legendary architect of the modern conservative movement". Along with detailing Simon Sr.'s importance within the tradition of conservatism, the profile summarizes him as "legendarily mean" and quotes Simon Sr.'s friend, Ed Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation, describing Simon Sr. as "a mean, nasty, tough bond trader who took no BS from anyone." It relates as an example of this aspect of his character that Simon Sr. "would awaken his children on weekend mornings by dousing their heads with buckets of cold water."[18] The Washington Post's profile of Simon Jr. analysizes the lasting impact of Watergate on Simon Sr. this way:[18]

... Simon [Sr.] came away from the experience of Watergate with a disgust for the partisan character of the affair, and the capital. The experience of [Nixon's] impeachment convinced him [...] not that partisanship was necessarily poisonous, but that his opponents were far better at partisanship than his side was. [...] Simon would spend the remainder of his life helping to redress the balance ...

Since 2001, the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership has been awarded to distinguished living donors, including John T. Walton, John Templeton, and Phil Anschutz.

In 2004, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute dedicated a $40,000 cash prize in honor of Secretary Simon. Each year since, the William E. Simon Fellowship for Noble Purpose has been awarded to a college senior desiring to live a life dedicated to serving humanity.

William E. Simon Scholarship Fund[edit]

The William E. Simon Scholarship Fund provides financial assistance for academically highly qualified students of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum who live in Rome and who would otherwise lack the resources to cover their educational expenses. Each scholarship award provides no more than 40% of the total annual expense of tuition, room, board, and related fees and expenses. Annually, the William E. Simon Scholarship Fund allocates 50% of the scholarship fund for lay students.[19]


  1. ^ Simon, William E. A Time for Truth (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978), p. 221. Cited in American Chameleon, Ohio Kent State University Press, 1991, p. 203
  2. ^ "Simon Papers: Biographical Sketch".
  3. ^ Simon, William E., American National Biography. Accessed September 14, 2018. "Young William attended secondary school at the Blair Academy and the Newark Academy but was an undistinguished student, preferring sports to academics."
  4. ^ Gendebien, Albert W. (1986). The Biography of a College: A History of Lafayette College 1927 - 1978. Easton, PA: Lafayette College.
  5. ^ Nixon's Decisive New Energy Czar. Time Magazine. December 10, 1973
  6. ^ Bruce Bartlett, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, New York: Doubleday, 2006, pp. 105–06
  7. ^ Scannell, Nancy. "Simon Withdraws Offer for Orioles," The Washington Post, Tuesday, February 6, 1979. Retrieved December 12, 2020
  8. ^ Scannell, Nancy. "Hoffberger Sells Orioles To Williams," The Washington Post, Friday, August 3, 1979. Retrieved December 12, 2020
  9. ^ America: what went wrong? Donald L. Barlett, James B. Steele, p. 16
  10. ^ America: What Went Wrong? Donald L. Barlett, James B. Steele. p. 16
  11. ^ The New York Times, "Buyout Firms Profited as a Company's Debt Soared", Julie Creswell, Oct. 4, 2009
  12. ^ Talati, Sonia (May 30, 2017). "The Simon Family-Office Solution". Barron's.
  13. ^ Garbarine, Rachelle. "If You're Thinking of Living in: Harding", The New York Times, June 10, 1990. Accessed September 14, 2018. "Among its residents are William E. Simon, the former Secretary of the Treasury, and Robert P. Luciano, the chairman of Schering-Plough, the pharmaceutical company."
  14. ^ "Itasca yacht for sale". London: Boat International. Archived from the original on 27 December 2019. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  15. ^ "National Winners | public service awards | Jefferson Awards.org". Archived from the original on 2010-11-24.
  16. ^ The Philanthropy Hall of Fame, William Simon
  17. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
  18. ^ a b Wallace-Wells, Benjamin (26 October 2007). "Giuliani's Policy Professor: THE GURUS - BILL SIMON". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  19. ^ "Borse di studi Scholarships". Archived from the original on 2012-07-06. Retrieved 2012-05-27.

Further reading[edit]

Political offices
Preceded byas Director of the Energy Policy Office Director of the Federal Energy Office
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Secretary of the Treasury
Succeeded by
Sporting positions
Preceded by President of the United States Olympic Committee
Succeeded by