David Simon, the founding director of the Baltimore School for the Arts, passed away on July 7 of heart failure. He was 92 years old.
“David was a tireless advocate for the potential of young people, establishing BSA’s high standards of artistic excellence through constant monitoring of artistic instruction and artistic product,” said Dr. Chris Ford, current director of Baltimore School for the Arts. “David’s vision of a high school that connected practicing, professional artists and young people was a radical idea in 1979. This radical vision was tied to a deep sense of the value of each individual and the absolute requirement that each person be treated with respect and dignity. He took frequent, decisive action to ensure these values were deeply embedded in BSA’s culture. He is deeply missed, and we send our condelences to his family.”
David’s talent and enthusiasm for the arts manifested from an early age. While he was a young boy growing up in New York during the Great Depression, David’s first love was drawing. His mother subsequently enrolled him in the School for Industrial Art in Manhattan, but David was pursuing music on the side. After he graduated from high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1943. An officer encouraged him to join its highly lauded band, but David preferred to be a “regular Marine.” He continued his education thanks to the G.I. Bill, enrolling in the Manhattan School of Music as a trombone major. He would go on to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, as well as to a career of distinction as a musician, composer, and conductor.
Tony Carey, the first chair of BSA’s Board of Overseers, recruited David from the Manhattan School of Music in 1979, where he was then serving as dean. He led BSA in great things for 16 years.
Beloved for his sense of humor and congenial nature, he cared deeply about each and every single student here. While he retired from the school many years ago, his commitment to BSA never wavered. He remained a faithful supporter of the school, attending Expressions, endowing a college scholarship fund, and hosting a gallery exhibition of paintings as a fundraiser for the school’s recent capital campaign. Both his daughter, Anne Simon, and his grandson, Cade Simon, graduated from the high school, and continue his legacy of kindness and passion for life.
David touched thousands of lives and will be deeply missed. We offer our condolences to his wife, Carole, and the rest of his family. A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 12, at 2 pm in the Schaefer Ballroom of the Mark K. Joseph Building at the Baltimore School for the Arts.
Many people have asked us about how to make a donation in his honor. You can make a gift to the David Simon Scholarship Fund here.