Ron Simon Art Teacher
The artwork of Ronald D. Simon lives on in some 700 private collections throughout North America. A six-part metal sculpture he did for the University of Akron is remembered by many. Still others recall how he enlisted students to produce a huge patriotic mural for the country’s 1976 bicentennial.Mr. Simon died Thursday at the age of 82.
Mr. Simon’s grandparents and father migrated to Northeast Ohio from Lebanon. His parents, John and Ida Simon, were living in Lakewood when he was born in 1934. The family moved to Akron the following year and Mr. Simon remained a lifelong resident of the area, graduating from Kenmore High School in 1952 and earning a bachelor of science degree in education and master’s in fine arts from the University of Akron.
Simon served as a Cuyahoga Falls art teacher and director from 1957 to 1986 — a period in which he was a local Teacher of the Year, a finalist for Outstanding Ohio Art Educator and a member of the state board that helped write art curriculum for middle and high school students. Many of his achievements were outlined by his cousin, former Akron Board of Education member Sam Salem, who successfully nominated Mr. Simon for the 2012 Distinguished Education Alumni Award at the University of Akron.
In 1970, Mr. Simon designed a six-part metal sculpture that symbolized the then-six colleges of UA, displayed prominently at the former Dean Gardiner Student Center. In 1975, he led a group of students in creating a bold patriotic mural covering the side of the former Great Falls Employment Agency on Front Street in Cuyahoga Falls. Bathed in yellow-and-orange rays from the Statue of Liberty’s torch, the mural beamed “SHINE ON AMERICA.”
The creators had no idea their iconic image would be viewed around the world. The band Devo incorporated the mural into a video, which they showed during a 1978 performance on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Stiff Records used a photo of the mural for a compilation of nationally known musical acts from Akron.
Mr. Simon dabbled in many mediums but his interest in metal sculpting grew until he became a full-time professional artist after retiring from Cuyahoga Falls Public Schools in 1986. He accrued 30 awards for his work.
Mr. Simon is survived by his wife of 59 years, Mary Lou; daughter Wendy Simon, Akron; granddaughters Samantha and Jordan Walker, Akron; brother John (Joyce), Akron; sister Marlene (George) Elzeer, Cleveland; and brother-in-law Edward Collins, Edgewater, Fla.
Ron Simon, 1962, Art Teacher and football coach at Crawford Elementary
At our 40th Class Reunion, 2008