“God looks out for Drunks and Sailors”
RADM Roger O. Simon could be described in one word – determined.
Roger’s tenacity can be attributed to his nature but also to his upbringing in Perham, Minnesota. The youngest son of Oscar August Simon and Gertrude (Gertie) Rue Simon his views of the world were formed by his parents’ steadfastness during the 1930 depression and his older siblings’ perseverance and service. His oldest sister, Berneal put herself through college and his older brothers, Don and Harland, whom he admired, served in World War II.
No stranger to hard work, Roger grew up in Minnesota performing farm work and as a teenager he performed the gruesome tasks working for a butcher. In high school in Perham, MN, he had a well-rounded experience participating in both sports and music.
After high school his parents and brothers moved to Washington DC. He worked at his brother Harland’s gas station and joined a black motorcycle gang. At the age of 22 he decided to follow his brothers into the Navy as a Radioman taking that training in Minnesota where he got more pay. He found bootcamp to be vacation compared to the work schedule of which he was accustom.
Roger’s determination saw him go from enlisted man to officer (Captain) all the way through to be being a Rear Admiral in the Navy. This act of going from enlisted to officer is called being a “Mustang” which perfectly describes Roger. This is considered quite a rare feat in the military.
Roger met the love of his life early in Minnesota when she worked at Rocky Bar, now known as Spanky’s Stone Hearth. Phyllis was a barmaid and late in the evening she could dance with the patrons. Roger made it a point to get there early enough yet late enough to snag a dance.
After Roger and family moved to the east coast he continued to correspond with Phyllis and came back to Minnesota on leave from the Navy. At a pivotal point Roger asked Phyllis to come to Washington DC and stay with his parents so they could get better acquainted. Phyllis took him up on his invitation and never looked back. They were married in 1952 in Frazee, MN. In 1954 they had a son, Craig and a daughter Shelley followed in 1956.
Roger at 92 was preceded in death by his parents, siblings, and Phyllis. He has left a living legacy with his two children: Craig and Shelley, their spouses, Kim and Bill, grandchildren Kyle and Cody and great-grandchildren, Jackson and Jordyn. (Also featured in photo is Nicole and Molly).
Services for Roger will be at Vergas Village Cemetery at noon on September 18th. Celebration of his life and remembrances will be held at Spanky’s following the service.
For more information on Roger’s Naval history use this link - https://www.usslittlerock.org/oral-histories/oh_simon.html
Schoeneberger Funeral & Cremation Service, Perham, MN (218) 346-5175 www.schoenebergerfh.com
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