CARBONDALE - Patti Derge Simon, wife of the late Paul Simon, said goodbye to one family Thursday to be with another.
Simon will leave for the Washington area to be near her daughter. But before she left, friends gathered at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute to bid her farewell.
Simon has lived in the area since 1972 and Mike Lawrence, former director of the institute, said she has helped the institute, especially after her husband died in 2003.
"I know she's going to be very much missed, but she has made a tremendous contribution to the community in the decades she's been here," Lawrence said. "I particularly appreciate her support for the institution. She was a major help to me after Paul's death."
Simon was presented with two gifts at the gathering. SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng thanked Simon for her contributions to the community and presented her with a framed collection of SIUC photos. In turn, Public Policy Institute Director David Yepsen presented Cheng with a bowtie pin that has become customary to Simon Institute staff.
Yepsen then thanked Simon for her guidance when he became the new director and presented her with a glass bowl made by Do U Glass Hot Shop in Murphysboro.
Simon said she felt it was time to be with her family and that she will miss her friends in the region. She said she would continue fighting on water issues. She previously fought for the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act, which was signed into law in 2005 by former President George W. Bush. She will continue lobbying for the Sen. Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2009.
She said she was happy to see so many people come out to see her. She said she plans to come back and will take the friendship she found in the region with her.
"The thing that kept me going in the most difficult and darkest times in my life is the warmth, love and strength I felt in this community," Simon said.
Source: The Southern