Obituary: Virgil Earl Stiefel Simon

Virgil Earl Stiefel Simon
Virgil Earl Stiefel Simon
Provided Photo

April 11, 1925 – March 14, 2023

Virgil Earl Stiefel Simon, 97, of Snowmass Village and formerly of Glenview, Illinois, passed away March 14, 2023.

Virgil was born April 11, 1925, the last of five siblings, on a farm in Gypsum, Kansas to Chester Marion Stiefel and Anna Bertha Cora Simon. Virgil’s mother, “Birdie”, died when he was only two, so his Aunt Emma Simon raised Virgil in Burlington, Iowa, a Mississippi River town and railroad center that hosted many of the great jazz musicians of the thirties and forties.

At age three Virgil began drawing detailed farm machinery and continued to excel in art throughout his education winning local, state and national awards for his exceptional drawings and paintings.

Virgil met Jo (Joan), his deceased beloved wife, when both sang in a junior high production of “Pirates of Penzance”, and in high school they both played bass viol in the Burlington High School symphony orchestra. High school sweethearts, they married at eighteen in 1944 while Virgil was home on furlough from the Army before being deployed to the Philippines during WWII where he chronicled his experiences in detailed sketches and paintings throughout his stay.

After the war Virgil began work as an architectural and industrial product designer for the firm McStay Jackson on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. A few years later he began working for Thomas A. Schutz Co. (TASCO) in Morton Grove, Illinois, contributing to it becoming a top point-of-purchase display design company where he was Vice President of Design. He remained at the Schutz Co. his entire career, winning prestigious awards working with national and international companies.

In the fifties Virgil and Jo built a home in nearby Glenview where they raised their two children, Leslie and Jay. They both were soloists and choir members of the Glenview Community Church and local musical theatre productions, and Virgil also enjoyed designing and building model airplanes that he and Jay entered in national competitions held at the Glenview Naval Air Station.

On a ski trip to Colorado, they fell in love with the mountains and bought a condominium on the golf course (aka “the Blue Roofs”) in 1968 at the beginning of the Snowmass ski area where they spent as much time as they could. They also discovered Telluride in the early seventies when that ski area first opened, and Virgil, along with partners, participated in the town’s preservation by renovating two historical properties.

When Virgil retired in the early nineties, he and Jo finally moved full-time to Snowmass Village, welcoming family and friends on many new adventures. In 1995 Virgil, and a handful of others, incorporated the Aspen Choral Society (founded by Ray Adams) into a not-for-profit organization which continues to perform Handel’s “Messiah” and a number of other concerts annually. Up until he was ninety-two, Virgil was a frequent soloist and member of the bass section in the ACS and Snowmass Chapel choruses. He served as president of the ACS, created its logo, posters and programs and tirelessly raised funds dedicating his time, energy and generosity (along with Jo) to supporting the talented musicians of the Valley. In 2022, Virgil and Jo were recognized by the Town of Snowmass Village and the City of Aspen with proclamations honoring their exceptional contributions to art and culture.

After years looking at property, Virgil finally found a spot in Snowmass to design and build their dream home which they filled with music, Virgil’s art and friends they loved. They celebrated their 76th year of marriage before Jo passed away in 2021.

Always thinking of others with a kind and generous spirit and talent galore, we thank you, Virgil, for your presence in our lives.

Virgil is survived by his two children, Leslie Simon of Glenview, IL and Jay Simon (Kathy) of Littleton, CO; his two grandchildren, Heather Starr-Kallas (Alex Kallas) of Snowmass Village and Julia Cook (Bryan) of Centennial, CO; his three great grandchildren, Savannah Kallas, Parker Long and Daisy Cook; his brother-in-law Robert Eisenhart (99) of Portland, OR; and nieces and nephews.
Virgil is predeceased by his dear wife Jo; his parents Marion and Bertha; three brothers, LeRoy, Lawrence and Mel and one sister Norma.

Virgil’s wonderful, long life will be celebrated sometime this summer at the Snowmass Chapel

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