Bob remained connected, committed and active in ATO until the very end. Just this past year he led all of us in a campaign that raised over $60,000 for ALS research. He inspired the ATO Rooftop outing in 2012 and the gathering at the Illinois vs. Washington Football game this past fall at Soldier Field that brought so many of us together, some for the first time in decades. Bob also inspired the creation of the document “Legends, Leaders, Lists and Profiles – the Stories and Men That Bind Us – Gamma Zeta – Alpha Tau Omega – University of Illinois” which you can see at our website at – http://www.2stayconnected.com/atoillinois/images/282_ato_legends.pdf Bob was a wealth of knowledge of Gamma Zeta history and shared numerous fun and interesting stories and antidotes which are sprinkled throughout this document. Amazingly, he did all of this from a wheelchair unable to walk or talk, only able to communicate via email.
In addition to his generosity, commitment, determination and leadership, Bob had an incredible sparkle in his eye, zest for life and sense of humor. Just last spring he saw a picture of then current undergrad Worthy Master Drew O’Neil standing in front of Bob’s portrait in the Gamma Zeta Chapter house. When informed that his picture and those of Stuart D. Daniels, Sidney Fithian and Thomas A. Clark had all been recently restored and professionally mounted in the front living rooms, he responded via email, “I have always wanted to be well hung”.
Shortly before Bob passed away, we reached out to our membership and asked guys to email Bob words of encouragement. Many of you did that and Bob’s son, John reported that the family read every one of those notes to Bob and they brought him joy and comfort. Reading those notes from you guys was one of the last things that Bob’s family did with him before he died. THANKS!!
There is a wonderful write up about Bob’s life and many contributions to ATO at the ATO National website at – http://www.ato.org/alphatauomega/publications/featurearchive/Robert_J_Simonds_1924-2013.aspx and his obituary can be found at – http://www.pyattfuneralhome.com/fh/obituaries/obituary.cfm?o_id=2368262&fh_id=10526 . so no need to repeat that information here.
We received many emails and notes about Bob over the last several weeks. The note from Ed Ptacek ’54 seems to have captured the sentiment of everyone best…
All ATO’s, as well as everyone he ever met, are saddened by the passing of Bob Simonds. The Illinois Gamma Zetas, like the Simonds family, have lost their leader. What an honor to have Bob guide us for so many years.
No one was more generous than Bob and no one took more joy from giving. I’m reminded of a passage from my early ATO days:
There is a destiny that makes us brothers:
None goes his way alone:
All that we send into the lives of others
Comes back into our own.
I care not what his temples or his creeds,
One thing holds firm and fast
That into his fateful heap of days and deeds
The soul of man Is cast.
by Edwin Markham
That passage comes to mind when one remembers the love Bob bestowed on everyone. He provided the inspiration for many others to continue the virtues of our fraternal organization. Bob will be Gamma Zeta’s #1 Legend, a group he cherished almost as much as his family.
In addition to Bob’s extraordinary gift of generosity, he carried on to demonstrate strength and courage in his final years. Bob was truly exceptional.
Bob’s journey is over. Now he may rest with Edie, who was also a warm, beautiful person. I’ll cherish their friendship forever.