Many newspapers in Illinois are remembering former Senator Paul Simon today, after he died at age 75 in a hospital in Springfield, Illinois from complications due to heart surgery. The bow-tied politician is remembered for more than his trademark tie or his sometimes confusing name, which he joked about on an episode of Saturday Night Live when he and the singer were confused over who was hosting the show.
But Simon is remembered because he first earned a name as a newspaper editor and publisher (the youngest in the nation, says Wired) when his paper tackled crime and corruption in Troy, Illinois. He was 19 when he bought the paper, after dropping out of college and securing a $3,600 loan. By age 25, Simon was elected to the Illinois House, and his political career had begun.
Born to Lutheran missionary parents soon after they returned from China, Simon took his values to the statehouse. The Journal-Standard in Freeport, Illinois writes, "Simon left his mark on Illinois politics as a crusader for ethics reform when he was a state legislator in Springfield in the 1950s, where he spearheaded the Open Meetings Act." He continued his campaign against corruption until the day he died, when Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed ethics legislation that Simon helped create.
In Congress, Simon worked to feed the poor (along with his brother, Art, who founded Bread for the World), provide social programs to put the unemployed to work, sponsored the balanced budget amendment, overhauled student loan programs, and crusaded against television violence.
To those who knew him, he will be remembered for his integrity. The Central Illinois Pantagraph, writes:
In 1990, Simon bucked McLean County's Republican traditions and carried the county ...1
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