William E Simon was an entrepreneur and philanthropist. He was a well-known investor and former US Treasury Secretary who worked in both the public and private sectors during his career. He began his career with Union Securities dealing municipal bonds, but was quickly elevated to Vice President of Weeden & Co. He then held a high-ranking position at Salomon Brothers before joining the Nixon administration as Treasury Secretary. During the Ford and later Carter administrations, he maintained his high status. He left his position as Treasury Secretary in 1977 to pursue a career in the private sector. Simon sat on the boards of nearly thirty firms during his professional career, including Xerox, Citibank, Halliburton, Dart & Kraft, and United Technologies. He has also served on the boards of the Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution, two of America’s most prestigious think tanks.
Childhood and Adolescence
William Edward Simon was born in Paterson, New Jersey, on November 27, 1927, to Eleanor and Charles Simon Jr. His father worked as a senior insurance executive.
Newark Academy was where he finished his official education. He was recruited into the United States Army Infantry here. He continued his studies after being relieved of his responsibilities.
In 1952, he enrolled at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, and graduated with a BA degree. He was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity while at college.
William E. Simon’s Career
He started his career working for Union Securities right after finishing his education.
He quickly rose through the ranks of Weeden & Co. to Vice President. He did, however, resign to become the senior partner and a member of the seven-person Executive Committee. His resume listed him as the head of Salmon Brothers’ Government and Municipal Bond department.
He quit his illustrious Wall Street career in 1973 to join Richard Nixon’s administration as a deputy Treasury Secretary. His resume covered reorganizing and upgrading financial institutions in the United States.
He was appointed Director of the Federal Energy Office due to his remarkable work talents and intelligence. As a result, he became the organization’s first administrator. He earned the nickname “energy czar” during this time.
In the meantime, he became the chairman of the President’s Oil Policy Committee and was instrumental in revamping the mandatory oil import program in April 1973.
He was also a member of the President’s Energy Resources Council, where he was in charge of both domestic and international energy policy coordination.
On the recommendation of Attorney General John Mitchell, a veteran Wall Street lawyer, and Treasury Secretary George P. Shultz, he was appointed to the position of Treasury Secretary in April 1974, a position he held until the Nixon administration was replaced by Gerald R Ford. According to the description, he believes in free markets and opposes government measures that subsidize or penalize enterprises.
In August 1974, he was named Chairman of the Economic Policy Board and principal spokesman for the administration on economic problems under the Ford administration.
In April of the following year, he was appointed Chairman of the newly formed East-West Foreign Trade Board, which was constituted under the auspices of the 1974 Trade Act. On January 22, 1977, his stint as Secretary of the Treasury came to an end.
He moved to the private sector after his government tenure and began working as a Vice Chairman at Blyth Eastman Dillon. He worked for the company for three years before retiring.
After that, he co-founded Wesray Capital Corporation with Ray Chambers, which was a leveraged buyout (LBO) firm. In 1982, the corporation invested a million dollars in equity capital and purchased Gibson Greetings, a greeting card company based in Cincinnati, for $80 million. It became a public enterprise and was valued at $66 million within eighteen months.
He founded WSGP International in 1984 with the goal of investing in real estate and financial services companies. The company’s focus was on the western United States and the Pacific Rim.
He founded William E. Simon & Sons, a global merchant bank, with his sons William E. Simon Jr. and J. Peter Simon four years later. New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong were among the bank’s locations. The bank specialized in venture funding.
In 1990, he formed Catterton-Simon Partners with the help of various investors. It was a private equity firm that specialized in beverages and other consumer goods.
He was an active member of the United States Olympic Committee outside of his employment duties. He was the Treasurer of the United States Olympic Committee from 1977 until 1981. He then served as President of the Committee from 1981 until 1985. He was the chairman of the United States Olympic Foundation from 1985 until 1997.
He served on the boards of the Basketball Hall of Fame, the National Tennis Foundation and Hall of Fame, the United States Amateur Boxing Foundation, the Women’s Sports Foundation, and the World Cup ’94 Organizing and Executive Committees during his career in sports and administration.
He wrote two books during his lifetime, ‘A Time for Truth’ in 1978 and ‘A Time for Action’ in 1980, in addition to his work in the government, private industry, and sports. Both works went on to become best-sellers.
Achievements and Awards
In 1977, he received the Alexander Hamilton Award, the Treasury Department’s highest accolade, for his contributions and efforts as Secretary of the Treasury.
President Anwar Sadat of Egypt awarded him the title Collar of the Republic/Order of the Nile in 1977.
He earned the Jefferson Awards’ U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official in 1976.
He garnered various trophies and honors during his sporting career, including the Olympic Torch and the Olympic Order, the highest honors bestowed by the United States Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee, respectively.
In 1975, he threw out the first pitch of the World Series on behalf of President Gerald Ford at Fenway Park in Boston.
He was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 1991.
In 1986, the University of Rochester’s Graduate School of Management was renamed the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration to honor his contributions to business, finance, and public service.
Personal History and Legacy
Carol Girard Simon was his first wife, whom he married in 1950. The couple had seven children together, with two sons and five daughters.
Following Carol’s death in 1995, he married Tonia Adams Donnelley in 1996. Until his death in 2000, the pair lived together.
He was interested in various humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors during his life. At the United States Military Academy at West Point, he established the William E. Simon Center for Professional Military Ethic.
He founded the William E. Simon Center for Strategic Studies and a Simon professorship at the United States Air Force Academy.
He died in Santa Barbara, California, on June 3, 2000, from complications from pulmonary fibrosis. He was laid to rest in Totowa, New Jersey’s Laurel Grove Memorial Park.
The William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership was founded posthumously in 2001 and has subsequently been granted to notable live contributors such as John T. Walton, John Templeton, and Phil Anschutz.
Since 2004, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute has awarded a $40,000 cash prize in Secretary Simon’s honor. Since then, the William E. Simon Fellowship for Noble Purpose has been given to college seniors who want to dedicate their lives to helping others.
Estimated Net worth
Simon is worth $300 million dollars. However, in 1986, Mr. Simon and Mr. Chambers parted ways as Mr. Simon focused on creating a network of financial institutions on the West Coast and throughout the Pacific.
He was the 63rd Secretary of the Treasury and served in three administrations: Nixon’s, Ford’s, and Carter’s.