Bobbie Simon, educator and administrator for 35 years, and international missionary, kept the Christian faith, but finished her course on June 14, 2016, passing away at the age of 89.
Simon lived a full life and cherished her family. She was preceded in death by her husband Robert, she is survived by four children, Denis (Denise) Simon (John, Luke, Mark, Mathew, Mary); Deborah (Richard) Spitzfaden (Renee, David, Diane); Madelyn (Jose) Lozano (Marisa, Michelle); and Joseph (Maureen) Simon; 10 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Her daughter Madelyn Lozano, fondly remembers her mother as resilient and a beautiful Christian woman.
“My mother had a really hard life as a child, but she really overcame it, she went on to get married at the age of 19, and had four children and then after she had her four children she started college,” Lozano said. “She was a wonderful Christian woman who was very involved with her church, which was Nauvoo United Methodist Church which is located in West Portsmouth.”
Simon is a native of Portsmouth, where she served as a school teacher and administrator for 35 years, mentoring work-study students and organizing some of the first special education classes in Ohio. Simon earned degrees in the field of education in the midst of motherhood.
“She earned a teaching degree from Ohio University, and later earned a Masters of Education degree from Morehead State University, while teaching and raising a family, and doing all of her volunteer work. She was an avid volunteer, and had Girl Scout Troops all the while my sister and I were growing up,” Lozano said. “Even when she didn’t have small children anymore, she still led Girl Scout Troops, and taught a lot of young ladies to be independent.”
Simon founded one of Ohio’s first summer camps for physically and mentally handicapped youth and was a noted advocate for the disabled.
“She was also on the forefront of helping handicapped people back in the 1960s and 70s. She had the first summer camp for handicapped young people in the state of Ohio,” Lozano said. “She always taught special education, but I am not exactly sure of what it was called back then.
Lozano said her mother was extremely proud of the longevity of the marriages of all of her children.
“One of the things that my mother was most proud of is that all of her children are still married to their original spouses,” Lozano said. “My older brother has been married well over 40 years, and my sister and I have been married much over 30 years, and my second brother as well.”
The world was Simon’s mission field. She was a world traveler who visited 80 countries on five continents. Simon never met a stranger and was very personable individual, who always made friends wherever she went, and loved to tell stories about her travels and life experiences. Christian faith was her guiding principle. She made a positive impact through love, service and good will to all.
“She went to China, Africa, Russia, all over the Soviet Union, all over Europe, South America, and a host of conferences through the Methodist Church. Also, went on a missionary trip to Cuba back in the early 80s,” Lozano said. “On a lot of these trips she would visit schools, and talk with people about what they were doing for the handicapped, both mentally and physically. At some point she was on the Governors Council for Ohio advocating for handicapped.”
It was during Simon’s mission trip to Zimbabwe, Africa that she met Seglitter Musundire, who became a close friend of Simon. Musundire said Simon made a tremendous impact upon her life.
“She was such a good person to know in my life. She changed a lot of things in my life, and it is so sad to know that she is gone,”Musundire said.”She has touched so many people’s lives, including my own, but I know that she is in a better place. We will all die one day, but just knowing that she has left this world is sad.”
It was when Simon came to Zimbabwe on a mission trip with Pastor Sandra Lattimore, former pastor of House of God in Portsmouth, who is also deceased, that Musundire was introduced to Simon.
“I never dreamed that one day I would be here in the United States, and I was able to do that because of the scholarship that she offered when she came to Zimbabwe for a mission trip,” Musundire said. “I thought that it was an amazing thing that she did. She did not think about herself. When she was there she wanted to do something to help to change someone’s life. She didn’t have to do it, but she felt it in her heart, and God spoke to her about doing something for someone in Africa.”
Simon worked in conjunction with Leo Blackburn, now deceased, of what was known then as Southeastern Business College to organize $10,000 educational scholarship for a Zimbabwian student to come to the United States and study abroad. Along with a host of other applicants, Musundire applied for the scholarship, and was the student selected. Musundire went on to further her education at Southeastern Business College, completing a Masters of Business at Indiana Wesleyan University, and will begin work on a PhD program in January of 2017.
After retiring from teaching, Simon moved to Miami to live with her daughter Madelyn Lozano, and was an active member of Kendall United Methodist Church, where she took part in the choir, United Methodist Women and diverse mission projects, always ready to share a smile and kind words with others.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.