Kurt Simon


IUSB Chancellor's Medallion (2012)
IUSB Chancellor's Medallion
Location: South Bend


Simon and his late wife, Tessye, are well known in the South Bend community for their philanthropy. The Kurt and Tessye Simon Foundation, which was established in 1975, strengthens the ties between the Jewish population and the local residents. The foundation sponsors the Annual Institute on Judaism and underwrites adult education programs at Temple Beth-El. Mrs. Simon died in 2001. The foundation also created the Kurt and Tessye Simon Fund for Holocaust Remembrance. In 1983, the Kurt and Tessye Simon Education Building was constructed at Temple Beth-El, and in 1998, the Kurt and Tessye Simon Community Building was built on the grounds of the Jewish Federation.

At IU South Bend, Simon donated funds for the naming of one of the courtyards in the Administration Building. He has also funded a lecture series, a book from the Wolfson Press, the Western Galilee University Exchange Program and a lecture room at the Civil Rights Heritage Center at the Natatorium.

Simon left Germany in 1930 at the age of 16 to live with his uncles in South Bend. The uncles had started Simon Brothers, a wholesale and retail grocery business. He graduated from Central High School in 1931 and the University of Notre Dame in 1935. Following graduation he began to work as a salesman for Simon Brothers. In 1937, he convinced his parents, a sister and an uncle to join him in South Bend as Germany became more dangerous for Jews. He married Tessye in 1941 and they had one son, Robert. He would later serve as president and chairman of the board as Simon Brothers became one of the largest distributors in the region. He retired in 1987.