Obituary of Richard D. Simons
Richard D. Simons, age 95, passed away Sunday, July 17th at his home on Lake Delta in Rome, NY. He was born in Niagara Falls, NY on March 23, l927, son of William Taylor Simons and Sybil (Swick) Simons. He married Muriel (Penny) Genung on June 9, 1951. She died in 1992. He married Esther (Esi) Turkington Tremblay on May 21, 1994. He is survived by his wife, Esi, a son Ross and his wife Sheila of Liverpool NY, a son Scott of Portland, Maine, daughters Kathryn of Boston, Massachusetts and Linda of Bethesda, Maryland, two stepchildren, Mark Tremblay and his wife Tracy of Vienna, Virginia, and Cindy Tremblay and her husband Steve of Minneapolis, Minnesota, six grandchildren and six great grandchildren. His sister, Joan Simons Eddy, and good friend and
brother-in-law Sonny Eddy, of Bloomfield, NY, predeceased him.
Richard had three loves, his family, the law, and skiing. While his legal accomplishments were many, his love for and commitment to his family were always the most important to him. His family could always count on him to come through for them when needed. He was an active and enthusiastic man who loved adventure, like when he took his family on a cross-country trip in a camper van, or built a ski house in the Adirondacks from scratch. He was happiest when he could get the family together at his home on Lake Delta for holiday celebrations, and was known for his humorous stories about the past.
He was educated in the Niagara Falls and Yonkers public schools, and graduated from Colgate University and the Law School of the University of Michigan. During World War II, he served in the United States Navy as an Aviation Cadet. He was in training to be a naval pilot when the war ended and he returned to civilian life.
His love of the law took him to great heights in his career. He always said to his children, find something that you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life. He was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1952 and practiced law in Rome from
1952 until 1963 when he was elected to the Supreme Court. During his law practice he served in the part time positions of Assistant Corporation Counsel and Corporation Counsel of the City of Rome.
In 1963, he was elected a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court for the 5th Judicial District. In 1970, Governor Rockefeller designated him an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, 3rd Department in Albany and in 1972 he designated him an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division 4th Department in Rochester. During his time on the Appellate Division, New York State Court of Appeals Chief Judge Charles Breitel appointed Judge Simons four times as a judge on the Court on the Judiciary (a specialized court which investigated and disciplined sitting judges for misconduct), and in 1983 he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Albany Law School.
In 1983, Governor Mario Cuomo appointed Judge Simons to the NYS Court of Appeals where he served until he retired because of age in 1997. During his term on the Court
of Appeals, Simons served from 1992-1993 as the Acting Chief Judge of the State of New York and of the Court of Appeals. During his years on the Court he mentored a generation of law clerks that went on to successful legal careers and maintained their relationship with him for the rest of his life.
Following his retirement, he was “of counsel” to the Rome Law firm of McMahon and Grow. During that association, he worked primarily as an arbitrator and as an expert witness on New York State law testifying in litigation in other American jurisdictions and in Europe and Australia.
Judge Simons served as a director of the Capital Defender Office, Chief Judge of the Oneida Indian Nation, Jurist-in-Residence at the Syracuse University Law School, a member of the Law School Admissions Services and as a member of the Bar Passage Study Commission. He also served as a member of the Editorial Staff for the New York Pattern Jury Instruction Manual.
He was a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, Fellow and former Chair (1997-1998) of the New York State Bar Foundation, and member of the American Law Institute, and the American, New York State, Oneida County and Rome City Bar Associations. He served as the Chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Commission on Court Structure and Judicial Selection and its Task Force on Court Reorganization.
In 2000, the New York State Bar Association awarded Judge Simons its Gold Medal for Distinguished Service to the Profession. The national chapter of his college fraternity, Sigma Chi, named him a “Significant Sig”, an honor conferred nationwide.
Following his retirement from The Court of Appeals, he joined a former colleague, Stuart Hancock of Syracuse, in working with lawyers representing the Oneida Nation in designing a court system and creating a legal system for the Oneida Nation. Judge Simons served as a judge of the court for over 20 years.
His Local activities included a term as Chairman of the Rome Republican Committee and Vice Chairman of the Oneida County Republican Committee before he became a judge, as Trustee of the First Presbyterian Church of Rome, Member of the Board of Managers of the Rome Hospital and Murphy Memorial Hospital, and Trustee of the Rome Art and Community Center
Judge Simons was an enthusiastic golfer but it was downhill skiing that was his great passion. He and his family built their own ski lodge at Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks where he skied for over 40 years. Every year he would challenge his family to a speed run down Twister, a race that he continued to win until late in his 70’s. So subtle were his turns that his family coined the phase “modified schuss turn” in his honor. He enjoyed skiing at Gore and various western resorts until he was 83 years old, and we imagine him now skiing in fields of deep powder, turning only when absolutely necessary to follow the fall line down the mountain.
Calling hours will be Friday, July 22nd from 4:00-6:00 PM at Nunn and Harper Funeral Home, Inc., 418 N. George Street, Rome, NY.
A service in Richard’s honor will be held on Saturday, July 23rd at 3:00 PM at the First Presbyterian Church, 108 W. ,Court Street, Rome, NY.