Simon, Jeanne. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
Jeanne Hurley Simon (1922-2000), wife of U. S. Senator Paul Simon, was a lawyer, Illinois State Representative, author, and a significant public figure in Illinois and the nation. She played an active role in each of her husband's campaigns. A life-long advocate for public libraries, she was twice appointed chairperson of the U. S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS).
Born Jeanne C. Hurley in Chicago, Simon was a graduate of Barat College and Northwestern University Law School. From 1952 she served as assistant State's attorney in Cook County, Illinois. In 1956 and 1958 she was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives where she met her husband, Paul Simon. They were married in 1960, the first and thus far only wedding of two sitting Illinois state legislators. They had two children, Sheila and Martin. Though she left the legislature in 1961, Simon remained active in politics and public life. She participated actively in her husband's campaigns, both successful--for lieutenant governor of Illinois (1968), U. S. Congressman (1974-1982), and U. S. Senator (1984 and 1990)--and unsuccessful, for Illinois governor (1972), and for the Democratic nomination for president (1988). She wrote a book, Codename Scarlett, chronicling her activity in this last campaign. She was active in the Women's Bar Association of Illinois, of which she was president in 1959-1960, the Congressional Spouses' Book Club, the Ladies of the Senate, the League of Women Voters, and the American Association of University Women. Among her many trips abroad, she traveled to Somalia with the Interchurch Response for the Horn of Africa in 1982, to Cali, Columbia with the Christian Children's Fund in 1994, and with the Carter Center observation team monitoring the elections in Liberia in 1997. She was a frequent public speaker throughout her career. She served on the board of directors of numerous service and advocacy organizations, including the American Foundation for the Blind, the Illinois Humane Society, NARAL, the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism, the Library Media Project, the WSIU (Carbondale, Ill.) Friends Board, and the Board of Visitors of Morris Library (Southern Illinois University at Carbondale), where she was an adjunct professor from 1997 until her death. In 1993 and again in 1997, she was appointed chair of NCLIS by President Bill Clinton.