David C. Simonson passed away at his home in Arlington, Virginia on Friday, August 27, 2021, at the age of 94. David was born in the Bronx, NY, May 9, 1927, son of Rebecca C. (Coolman) Simonson and Simon Simonson. A life-long artist and journalist, at the age of 12, he and his political artwork were featured in LIFE magazine. As a teenager, one of his oil paintings won a New York City-wide art competition. As early as his middle school years, he involved himself in journalism, publishing his own neighborhood newspaper for several years. He attended the (New York) High School of Music and Art, served in the U.S. Navy in World War II, and was a graduate of Hamilton College. He continued to study art for many years at the Art Students’ League in New York City. David started his career writing advertising copy and transitioned to newspaper journalism.
Through his interest in local theater, he crossed paths with the stunningly beautiful (his words) young schoolteacher, Lois Sneider in 1952. They were married later that year. David and Lois made Croton-on-Hudson, New York their home and raised three sons there. He served on the local planning board, village board of trustees, and as acting mayor of their small town.
David worked at the Mt. Kisco, N.Y. Patent Trader, a semi-weekly newspaper covering Northern Westchester and Putnam Counties, starting as reporter and working his way up to be publisher. It was there that his clever wit and artistic talent yielded a twice weekly cartoon of suburban life that became a much-anticipated feature of the paper. Many of his cartoons appeared in national publications, including The Reader’s Digest. David and his family moved to Glenview, Illinois in 1977, where he became publisher and president of Pioneer Press, a subsidiary of Time, Inc. During his tenure at Pioneer Press, he expanded the business from 13 to 41 local newspapers in suburban Chicago. Again, his cartoon became a staple of the weekly papers. In 1987, he became Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Newspaper Association in Washington D.C., and he and Lois moved to Arlington, Virginia.
After retiring in 1992, David served as a publishing consultant for the U.S. Information Agency, providing hands-on expertise to newspapers in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism, ensuring a free press would keep oppressive regimes in check. He also served as a newspaper publishing consultant in Africa for the United States Agency for International Development. In 1998 he received the Dean S. Lesher award for lifetime achievement from Suburban Newspapers of America.
Throughout his career, and in retirement, David served others, whether fundraising for the Mt. Kisco Lions Club, as a board member of The Bowery Mission, as the correspondent for the Hamilton College class of 1947, or as a Board member (and, of course, newsletter editor) of the Forest Hills Community Association.
In retirement, David and Lois were able to travel throughout the world, always bringing home tales of great adventure, and creating friendships in many nations. In later years, David became Lois’s caretaker, as Alzheimer’s disease slowly took her from him. After 61 years of marriage, Lois passed away in 2014.
David was a voracious reader, enjoying one or two history books or historical novels each week. He had a distinctive sense of humor was particularly fond of mid-20th century cartoons and bad puns. Having grown up blocks away from Yankee Stadium, David was a life-long Yankee fan, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the team. While he gave up formal oil painting in his 40’s, he continued his life-long love of art, producing cartoons and hand-made birthday cards his entire life. David enjoyed a good crossword puzzle, always doing the Post’s daily puzzle in pen with breakfast, and wrestling with the Sunday puzzle. It should be noted he completely solved the puzzle from the Sunday before his passing.
David C. Simonson is survived by his three sons and their wives, Peter and Lynne of Greenville, NH, Eric and Barbara of Darien, CT, and John and Helen of Brooklyn, NY. He is also survived by 5 grandsons, Matthew, Aaron, Ian, James, and Joseph Simonson, and two great-granddaughters, Emma and Kaylee. He leaves behind many close friends in his neighborhood and around the world.
A memorial service will be held at 9:30 a.m. on September 11 at Everly Wheatley Funeral Home, 1500 W Braddock Rd, Alexandria, VA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bowery Mission.