Remembering Marie Simone
Marie Simone, a former president, committee chair and long-time member of Summit College Club, passed away last October. Marie was an educator, a leader, a devoted mother, daughter and wife, and an active and influential Club member and friend. Several current SCC members offered their recollections of working with Marie, and the impact she had on each of them individually and on the Club.
Leslie Carson was a member of the Programs Committee when Marie was Chair. “Committee meetings were held at her home. She always served a Philly Fluff cake from Natale’s, and coffee. And she was a terrific leader. She wanted to hear everyone’s ideas. And when it came to assigning tasks, she always put herself on the more onerous or time-consuming tasks,” Leslie recalled.
Leslie also described Marie as “very much a caregiver,” remembering how she had not only cared for her children but also her mother and, later, her husband. “She had a lovely home, and she adored her family,” Leslie said. “She was a good example for me. I learned a lot from Marie.” (It should be noted that, prior to Covid-imposed virtual meetings, Leslie held her Program Committee meetings at her home, and served a lovely luncheon and/or dessert for her committee members.)
Ann Soper met Marie through an entirely different channel: their children’s elementary school PTA. “Marie lived across the street, but we didn’t know each other well yet,” Ann said. “I was working on setting up some program, and I said, ‘Could you help us?’ and she immediately said, ‘Yes!’” That seemed to be one of her consistent traits: saying “yes” to helping, doing, and leading. Ann remembers Marie as a person who was both hard-working and great to work with as well. “She was never confrontational; she just did what had to be done.”
Suzan Cox preceded Marie in the role of President of Summit College Club. “She was a force!” said Suzan. “If Marie made up her mind that something was going to happen, it did. Period.” Suzan recounted how, during her own tenure as President, a special committee was looking for a new space in which to re-establish the book sale. But they couldn’t find a venue that met all the criteria the Board members established, including 6 weeks of availability, wheelchair accessibility, and no cost. “We just couldn’t get it done,” Suzan said.
When Marie became President in 2004, she reset the requirements for the book sale space so they could be met. “I believe she put together the first sale at the American Legion in New Providence–in fact, I think she signed the lease herself!” Suzan said.
Unfortunately, Marie had to step down from the role of President before her full term was up, to take care of her husband who was facing some critical health issues. But she remained an active and devoted member. Hedy and Paul Tukey knew Marie and her husband, Ken, for over 30 years as fellow members of the Gourmet Club. Hedy remembers them as a generous, active and “brilliant” couple who not only traveled the world, but used their travels to expand their knowledge of the things that mattered to them, such as education.
“When Marie was planning a trip to Russia – and this may have been when it was still the Soviet Republic – she arranged to visit schools there. She was so inquisitive, and intrepid!” Hedy recalled. “She would go anywhere for the opportunity for knowledge: it was inspiring.”
Marie’s identity as an educator – she was a teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal and principal over the course of her career, as well as a Professor at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers – was apparent even in everyday interactions. “She was a teacher at heart, and she brought learning to our conversations. She was very knowledgeable, and had lots of stories!” Hedy recalled. Hedy also described Marie’s exceptional research skills, having perused Marie's doctoral thesis. That ability, along with her persistence and intellect, made a tremendous impact on Marie's care for her husband when his health reached a critical point. “She literally saved his life,” Hedy said. Ken Simone went on to live another 15 years after Marie stepped down as SCC President to care for him.
Ken Simone passed away in 2020, the result of his long-standing health concerns, but due to the pandemic a service of any kind was impossible. Marie arranged to have a memorial service in Summit last summer, which Hedy and Paul attended. Marie had already been diagnosed with cancer and, perhaps for the first time, looked a bit tired. “But she was never one to complain,” Hedy said. “In fact she almost made light of her situation, with comments like, ‘They tell me I have to take some pills; I guess I better comply.’ She was graceful and elegant to the last.” And at Marie’s funeral service last October, her Doctoral dissertation was on display.
Hedy was honored to be the SCC President who awarded Marie her 50-year Honorary Lifetime Membership in 2019, at our annual luncheon at Baltusrol. Many of our members will miss Marie’s presence in the club, but her impact lives on: we’re about to hold our Book Sale once again at the American Legion. And someday, we’ll go back to committee meetings at the chairperson’s home, with Philly Fluff and coffee to sweeten the work.
If you would like to make a contribution in Marie’s memory, please mail a check to:
Rutgers University Foundation PO Box 193 New Brunswick, NJ 08903-0193
On the memo line indicate that you are donating to the Graduate School of Education and include your name and address for gift acknowledgment.
Make a check to the Summit College Club Foundation and mail it to:
5 Brook Hollow Lane
New Providence, NJ 07974
Marie’s obituary from the Star Ledger is reprinted below:
Dr. Marie Rose Simone
August 18, 1937 – October 20, 2021
Marie was born and raised in Jersey City, NJ, the daughter of Jose and Teresa Alves. She was married to her childhood sweetheart, the late Kenneth E. Simone for 61 years and is survived by two sons, Kenneth and his wife, Linda, and their three children, Nicholas, Kevin and Dennis, and John and his wife, Sharon, and their two children, Benjamin, and Anna. She had recently moved to Lake Mary, FL but spent much of her life in NJ (Berkeley Heights and Somerset) and Palm Beach, FL.
Marie graduated as the valedictorian of her class from Dickinson High School in Jersey City, NJ. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Montclair State College in Montclair, NJ in 1959 earning a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. She continued her education earning her Masters' Degree from Seton Hall University. She completed her education with a Doctorate from the School of Education of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.
Marie had a lucrative career in education working for several school districts in New Jersey including Hackensack, Summit, and Bridgewater. In Summit, she worked at the Junior High School as a Spanish Teacher, Guidance Counselor and eventually became the Assistant Principal. She moved on to become the Principal of Crim School in Bridgewater. Upon her retirement from Crim School, Marie was a professor for Fairleigh Dickinson University's Department of Education. She continued to teach for many years and eventually retired to be with her husband Kenneth, and split time between her home in Somerset, NJ and Palm Beach, FL.
Marie was an avid Mah Jongg player, loved a good game of Mexican train and dabbled in needle point. She enjoyed creative writing participating in clubs at both communities she lived. She was active in both the College Club and the Canal Walk Women's Club which raised money for various charities. She loved to cook and entertain her family and friends. She and Ken were world travelers having visited 46 countries in their lifetime. She recently discovered football and enjoyed cheering Tua and the Dolphins to victory.
Marie passed away peacefully surrounded by family at the age of 84. She will be deeply missed.
Published by The Star-Ledger from Oct. 22 to Oct. 24, 2021.