By Mr F S Winfield at the funeral and thanksgiving service for Dr Hermann Simon C.B.E.
Held at the Borough Hall Stafford, on Friday 15th September 1978
Hermann Simon, Your Worship the Mayor, Rev. Stein, the Simon families, Pauline, Evodians and those close friends who have found time to came and cherish the memory of the man who lies here this afternoon and, perhaps, those of you who do not know me except as a friend of Hermann's, I stand here today in God's light, and in the ever-shining light of a most passionate father and a wonderful friend.
We called you simply 'THE DOCTOR' and I shall not list the honourable titles after your name, for you lying there, in your constant modesty and simplicity, would possible rebuke this lonely speaker. Yet - his family weep, and we are left to mourn our wisest and most loveable loss, but - should Hermann's family have so long a life, so simple and without return of problems, what a beautiful wonderness they inherit.
In Hermann Simon there was, as we all know, no wilfulness - just peace and, if there was a will, it would be to contribute only modesty, simplicity and a breadth of his family's horizons. He was such a man - ingenious, yet simple. For 25 years or more I knew him through Edwin (Beaumont) and I knew him well and like so many, I felt, rather than saw, his quiet conscience and confidence.
I saw him watch over his family, grieve his wife. But only as one, the simple man and in a simple manner is permitted to see, what to me was an intellectual enigma, to be touched by his love of music, of opera and of the cultural arts. Sometimes he led, but certainly he never lectured.
So, in recent years, I found myself wanting to ask "why does the hair go grey when the brain remains verdant green?" - many of us celebrated his seventieth birthday and felt it quite natural that we should bring more grandchildren to his eightieth, and many of you will feel the same. He gave life and he lived it well. I say this because talent is but the pen of the heart and messenger of the soul. Hermann would thus consider what he wanted, what was best for all, yet his decisions were always given with charity and a quiet faith, and a quiet grace.
Who could deny that this is not just a compliment, but an everlasting truth. I come here today, not just to praise him but to say "farewell" on behalf of us all.
Nor can I dwell on his youth before he joined us from Germany as an immigrant. When I first met him only his soft accent and his direct words indicated his native land. It was insight of what we know call a 'holocaust' which, perhaps, brought him to us, yet intellect was always to me his constant companion. He was of a silent yet enquiring mind and, inspired in his own field of chemical knowledge and research - thus - his Doctorate and why we gladly called him " Dr SIMON" - DOCTOR, FATHER, GRANDFATHER, CHEMIST, GERMAN, COMPANION OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE - simple yet faithful, generous and yet, quietly, a leader of men. Does it take all of this to be 'A DOCTOR'? Did he know that the spiritual perfection of man consists in his being a highly intellectual human being? And he was. One who knows all that is capable of learning, that such knowledge is obtained not by virtue, or by piety, but through constant enquiry and constant research. For the beginning of wisdom is created by that small group of men who desire it and admiration is created by those of us who are employed in its service. Thus - many of us who sit here this afternoon understand. We talk of acorns growing into oaks - I truly believe that when once we discussed Company growth, and I was the youngest present, in a very small building - what was then the 'Gas Works area ' of Stafford - he would have found it incredible that his factory , like his friends, and through so many friends, associates and colleagues, would eventually become a multi-national complex, a leader in its field with factories and Licensees across the world.
I talk of Evode being a leader in 'its field' because that was all that Hermann Simon possessed on that particular day - a playing field - but, like oaks, those buildings grew and will continue to grow. That is why we call it EVODE OF STAFFORD - a company growing on its credibility, on its knowledge and its founder and now, at last his children have taken over, together with their close associates and colleagues and Hermann will watch his oak and see new acorns on it, new grandchildren, new fields to development and, eventually to conquer.
Yet Hermann had a very simple confidence in the chemically based complications he used to introduce, and the man who was confidence in himself eternally gains the confidence of others. Yet, we watched as this quiet confidence seemed to say 'don't be too sure of yourself until the day you die' and, perhaps, this accounts for this quiet simplicity and mythology for I am 'just the singer - and not the song'. This man understood Goethe, adored Wagner, the opera, found time for the classical, ballet, admired the arts, surely I talk to you of a paradox, but - remember you his friends, gathered together in this farewell, that this quiet confidence and his own loyalties were shown and open for all to see.
I remember when once we has retired to his private office, after an argument about a certain sales area of Evode across Great Britain, and I thought a certain salesman, well, might be replaced, we fought the good fight and I lost. It was his loyalty to his eighty salesmen, his Sales Director, his Sales Manager which won me over and, perhaps, with the wry humour he possessed he said to me before we went into lunch "USE MY PERSONAL WASHBASIN BUT - REMEMBER YOU CAN ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS, BUT YOU CAN NEVER WASH YOUR CONSCIENCE" - not just a philosophy but, indeed, the words of a philosopher and a willing philanthropist as many of us know. His charity seemed never-ending, blending at the same time with an intolerable, an incredible tolerance and feeling for humanity and those with whom he worked. And so as Hermann Simon passes, so it was our business meetings lessened - they lessened a lot. His overseas business developed and he took part. That is why I mention a mind which remained a verdant green. I know that he encouraged a desire to sit in on meetings at the works in Stafford, in the Boardroom. To some it may appear strange that he, the wise, after his seventieth birthday, asked advice at these meetings. Yet I believe I understand his continued philosophy - " It is better to ask the way ten times than to take the wrong road once" was what he said.
And, perhaps, I have said enough - what a fine cultural inheritance he leaves to his children and to their children. What fine memories to all of us. What an example and what a fine memory he leaves to his closest associates at Evode. I envy you. I grieve for his children and I grieve for their children and I grieve for all of you too. But, the deeper the grief, the less words can express it. He will leave some of you feeling very much alone and Dr Simon would agree it is not good to be alone - even in Paradise, even though there will be those who, perhaps, stand waiting.
But, dear friends, and dear family, I could talk of this singular friend all day, and could still have wondrous things to say. I came to speak for him, to say farewell, to wish that we could cast such a fine shadow over our lives as obviously, and without disguise, and always look to the simple side of what he calls 'nature'. So I am going to leave you with a Testament which goes back to the years 1250:
HE NEVER MET A MAN IN WHOM HE FAILED TO RECOGNISE SOME QUALITY SUPERIOR TO HIS OWN
|IF HE WAS OLDER||- HE SAID THE MAN HAD DONE MORE GOOD|
|IF HE WAS YOUNGER||- HE SAID THE MAN HAD SINNED LESS|
|IF RICHER||- HE SAID HE HAD GIVEN MORE TO CHARITY|
|IF POORER||- HE SAID HE HAD SUFFERED MORE|
|IF WISER||- HE PAID HONOUR TO HIS WISDOM|
|IF NOT WISER||- HE JUDGED HIS FAULTS LESS SEVERELY|
Take this to your hearts - I can say no more but, gathered here today, we say 'FAREWELL, DEAR FRIEND, UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN'
Dr Simon was more than a scientist, his interest in the well being of others and his strong feeling for truth and justice, combined with discipline, enthusiasm and the will to succeed, ensured that from the beginning he built around him a loyal and able team of people. Through their joint efforts the company grew.