William Edward Simon (November 27 1927 – June 3 2000) was a businessman, a Secretary of Treasury of the U.S. for three years, and a philanthropist. He became the 63rd Secretary of the Treasury on May 8 1974, during the Nixon administration. He was reappointed by President Ford and served until 1977. Outside of government, he was a successful businessman and philanthropist. The William E. Simon Foundation carries on this legacy. He was 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.
In August, he was asked to continue to serve in this position by President Ford, who shortly afterward appointed him Chairman of the Economic Policy Board and chief spokesman for the Administration on economic issues.
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 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. 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 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.
He began his career with Union Securities in 1952. He served as Vice President of Weeden & Company before becoming the senior partner in charge of the Government and Municipal Bond departments at Salomon Brothers, where he was a member of the seven-man Executive Committee of the firm.
Following government service, Simon was a Vice Chairman at Blyth Eastman Dillon for three years, then co-founded with Ray Chambers, a tax accountant, Wesray Corporation (Mr. Simon contributing the "WES" and Mr. Chambers contributing the "RAY"), a leveraged buyout (LBO) firm. In 1982, Wesray invested approximately $1 million in equity capital (with Mr. 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 Mr. 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 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.
During his business career, Simon served on the boards of over thirty companies including Xerox, Citibank, Halliburton, Dart and Kraft, and United Technologies. In recognition of his visionary 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.
Simon was an active member of the United States Olympic Committee for over 30 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 11th, 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. Mr. 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.
As a man of faith and an active Knight of Malta, Simon considered the opportunity to serve those less fortunate than he a God-given privilege and, indeed, a responsibility. A volunteer at Covenant House and a Eucharistic Minister to patients, many of whom were destitute and terminally ill or both, at four hospitals, William E. Simon made a personal commitment to serve the sick and poor. He was also a well-known philanthropist, and created hundreds of scholarships for underprivileged students at both the high school and college level. He endowed chairs at numerous institutions, including the William E. Simon Chairs in Political Economy at Lafayette College, his alma mater, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies a prominent think tank in Washington, D.C..
At the U.S. Air Force Academy, he established the William E. Simon Center for Strategic Studies, as well as a Simon professorship.
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.
Simon was a resident of Harding Township, New Jersey.
Mr. Simon is commonly acknowledged as a legendary architect of the modern conservative movement. But he was also legendarily mean, "a mean, nasty, tough bond trader who took no BS from anyone," in the words of his old friend Edwin Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation. Simon was known to awaken his children on weekend mornings by dousing their heads with buckets of cold water.
Mr. Simon came away from the experience of Watergate with a disgust for the partisan character of the affair. The experience of Nixon impeachment convinced him, that partisanship was necessarily poisonous, but that his opponents were far better at partisanship than his side was."
Simon married former Tonia Donnelly following the death of his first wife, Carol Girard Simon, who died in 1995. William and Carol Simon had seven children and 27 grandchildren.
William E. Simon died of complications of pulmonary fibrosis on June 3 2000 in Santa Barbara, California, aged 72. One of his sons, Bill Simon, was the Republican nominee for governor of California in 2002.
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.