Jeremy Simon ’19, a former Kenyon student, passed away in an accident on July 4, 2017.
His friends and faculty remembered Simon as a creative thinker, an avid writer and a genuine friend, even after he left Kenyon in the fall of 2016. Royal Rhodes, Donald L. Rogan professor of religious studies, was Simon’s advisor. He said their conversations centered primarily on Simon’s interests outside of class. Simon enjoyed literature, poetry and film and participated in the making of a few films — both acting and behind-the-camera work.
Rhodes described Simon’s interest in the controversial (and now defunct) Walter E. Fernald State School in Waltham, Mass. When the school still operated, it functioned less as a school and more as an asylum or hospital. Experiments involving the U.S. government and cereal manufacturers were performed upon the individuals there, all of whom had physical or intellectual disabilities. Rhodes said Simon had gone to the campus, where most of the buildings are now derelict, and collected “things for [a] kind of collage that would get at an issue about corporate memory.”
“He saw this as a way of retrieving things that would be forgotten or discarded,” Rhodes said. “And I think that spoke — for me — to his character, that he was interested in people and people’s lives and what is often overlooked in society because people are marginalized.”
Rhodes added that Simon had been accepted to the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, where he would have attended this fall. He was hoping to pursue the more multidisciplinary work he became interested in during his gap year that began in the fall of 2016. Peter Ferraro ’19, a friend of Simon’s, said Simon left Kenyon because he felt he wasn’t accomplishing what he wanted.
“He always had something in store,” Ferraro said. “He was always working on an interesting project.”
Simon was also devoted to writing. In the spring of 2016, Caroline Sarkozi ’18 took Introduction to Fiction Writing with Simon. She described his work as being good and satirical. Ferraro added Simon was a talented writer who loved creative writing classes but disliked the rigidity of some of them.
Ferraro got to know Simon when the pair drove together from Kenyon to Massachusetts (where they are both from) at the end of their freshman year. Ferraro learned a great deal about Simon during that 12-hour drive, such as the fact that Simon had an interesting taste in music and was “a really genuine person,” one who could say what he thought but was never rude about it.
“The best advice he gave me was you shouldn’t be afraid of who you want to be,” Ferraro said. “You should just follow what you want to do.”