Morris Simon was more than a newspaperman. He was a businessman, an entrepreneur, and a leader in his community.
Born in Bristol, Tennessee in 1911, Simon had dreams of becoming a lawyer, but the effects of the Great Depression on his father's department-store business forced him to leave the University of Tennessee. In 1930 he accepted a reporter's job at the Knoxville News-Sentinel, and by 1945 he became assistant managing editor, thus beginning a long and prosperous journalism career.
One year later he and a friend created the twice-weekly Tullahoma News and Guardian in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Establishing himself as an influence in the town's business and social communities, Simon led efforts to create the first zoning and planning ordinances in Tullahoma. He was president and part owner of Arnold's Furniture Store; he was a 50-year member of the Tullahoma Rotary Club; and he received Tullahoma's Outstanding Citizen award in 1967.
As a newspaperman, Simon served as principal executive of the Fayetteville Elk Valley Times, the Manchester Times, and the Winchester Herald-Chronicle. These papers together composed the H & S Publishing Company. He sold the newspaper group in 1974. Simon died in 1994.
Morris Simon was always an advocate for public welfare and economic growth in lower Middle Tennessee. His editorials and news stories were strong influences on public opinion in the community. Simon prided himself on being an honest, fair reporter, and he seemed gratified by the newspaper career that replaced his lawyerly ambitions.
His journalistic achievements were recognized by his peers when they named him president of the Tennessee Press Association in 1975. Since he had been an active member of TPA for nearly 30 years, Simon's election capped an already-successful career in newspapers.
Although Simon never finished his own college education, he dedicated many of his professional activities to the education of others. He led efforts to create the University of Tennessee Space Institute and served as the first vice-chairman of the UTSI Support Council.
His focus on education was illustrated in 1972, when he chaired a committee that led to the establishment of Motlow State Community College, where the main classroom building is named Morris Simon Hall. He then served as senior chairman of the Motlow College Foundation and was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Education.
Simon was active in many lower Middle Tennessee regional, civic, and economic efforts, including the development associations of the Elk and Duck rivers, which led ultimately to the creation of Tims Ford Lake and Normandy Dam.
Simon was one of the organizers of the Coffee County United Givers Fund, director of the Coffee County Red Cross chapter, and chairman of the Tullahoma Municipal-Regional Planning Commission.
He was a member and former president of Beth El Congregation in Tullahoma and a member of the board of governors of the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.
Simon and his wife Lillian Tobe of Knoxville had been married nearly 50 years when she died in 1987. He is survived by a son, a daughter, and their families.