Joan “JO” Marie
August 16, 1925 – January 7, 2021
Jo Simon, 95, beloved wife of Virgil S. Simon for 76 wonderful years, passed away early Thursday morning January 7th, 2021 with family at her side.
Joan Marie Eisenhart was born August 16, 1925 to Verne and Wilma Eisenhart in Burlington, Iowa on the Mississippi River where she grew up with her older brothers Bill and Bob.
Jo was a talented musician with a beautiful voice singing solos in her church, in school musicals and special community events. She also excelled playing the bass viol in the Burlington High School Orchestra, along with Virgil, and won first place bass solo at the Iowa State Contest in 1942.
After high school, Jo was chosen to attend Interlochen National Music Camp with 350 students from 45 states. Visiting conductor, Leonard Bernstein, chose Jo to be first chair bass in the orchestra and to be the contralto soloist in Bach’s “Magnificat”. At the conclusion of camp she won distinction as vocalist and was awarded a scholarship to the Eastman School of Music.
High school sweethearts, Jo and Virgil married at 18 on May 7, 1944 during World War II while Virgil was home on a two week furlough from the Army. Virgil was deployed to the Philippines and Jo continued singing and playing her bass while attending and graduating from Burlington Junior College in 1945.
After the war they settled in Chicago where their two children, Leslie and Jay, were born. They later moved to the suburbs where Virgil was a partner in the design firm Thomas A. Schutz Co. Active in the Glenview community, Jo was a Brownie, Girl Scout and Cub Scout leader.
Music and friends always filled their home with Jo playing the piano. She played bass with the Evanston Symphony Orchestra, was in a local jazz band and a contralto soloist at the Glenview Community Church and in community choruses.
In the 60’s they began skiing in Colorado on family vacations, fell in love with Snowmass and the mountains and bought one of the first Snowmass Villas aka The Blue Roofs in 1968 at the beginning of the ski area. Their love of the Rocky Mountains also brought them to Telluride where they took part in the ski area’s beginnings in 1972.
When Virgil retired, they permanently moved to Snowmass Village and designed and built their own home fulfilling a lifelong dream. Jo and Virgil were founding members and an integral part of the Aspen Choral Society for years.
Always stylish, spunky and up for a good time, Jo loved her friends, her dogs and her family dearly.
Jo is survived by her husband and love of her life, Virgil S. Simon; her two children, Leslie Simon of Glenview, IL and Jay Simon, wife Kathy of Littleton, CO; her two grandchildren, Heather Starr-Kallas, husband Alexander Kallas of Snowmass Village, CO and Julia Long of Centennial, CO; her two great grandchildren, Savannah Kallas and Parker Long; her brother, Robert Eisenhart of Portland, OR and nieces and nephews.
Jo is predeceased by her parents Verne and Wilma Eisenhart, her brother Bill Eisenhart, her nephew John Eisenhart and her niece Ann Galvin-Eisenhart.
A celebration of Jo’s life will be held at the Snowmass Chapel later this spring.
Donations in honor of Jo’s wonderful life can be made to:
PO Box 17169
Snowmass Village, CO 81615
Aspen Choral Society
PO Box 650
Aspen, CO 81612
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