Obituary: Reno Thomas Simone Jr., 1943-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Reno Thomas Simone Jr., 1943-2022

Accomplished teacher-scholar had an infectious enthusiasm for literature, food, music and family

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Tom Simone - COURTESY
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  • Tom Simone

Reno Thomas Simone Jr., beloved father, grandfather, husband and friend, died peacefully on Saturday, March 19, 2022, from metastatic sarcoma. Although impossible to list them all here, his voracious interests included opera, literature, classical music, baseball, wine and food. Tom will be remembered for the scope of his generosity, his fascination with the human condition and the joyfulness of his belly laughs.

Tom was born on October 8, 1943, to Reno T. and Norma (Jones) Simone in Kalamazoo, Mich. Growing up in Ohio and Arizona, Tom followed his pursuit of knowledge to Dartmouth College, from which he graduated in 1963. Tom then earned his PhD at Claremont Graduate School in 1973 while he was already teaching English at the University of Vermont.

An accomplished teacher-scholar for over 50 years, Tom had an infectious enthusiasm for literature and ideas that attracted numerous undergraduate, master’s and honor students. Highlights from his academic career include the Integrated Humanities Program for freshmen, “Shakespeare on Page and Stage” (in London), the “impossible courses” (including James Joyce’s Ulysses), and a concert series introducing students to live music. Frustrated with teaching Dante to undergraduates, Tom decided to produce his own translations of Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, with extensive introductory essays and notes (a process in which his dedicated students eagerly participated). Following his cancer diagnosis and during the COVID-19 pandemic, with his wife’s encouragement, Tom recorded an audio version of the entire translation. The resulting labor of love soon will be ready for publication.

Food for Tom was a celebration, meant to be shared with family and friends. Italian was a natural favorite, but he loved exploring other cultures if he could share the results with others. His friends and family reveled in his gourmet abilities and appetites — often planning the next celebratory meal before the dishes from the first had been cleared away.

Boyhood in Ohio saw him a Cleveland Indians fan, but Tom embraced the Red Sox when he moved to Vermont. The dramatic and strategic aspects of the game brought out his passion. Over the years, Tom made many trips to Fenway Park to experience the drama in person with his family. Although there were numerous disappointments in the early days, he was able to savor the recent World Series victories.

Forty-eight years ago, Tom found his life’s partner and wife in Susan Shull. Their love sustained them through the joys of raising a family and the challenges faced during their many decades together. So many of his successes were made possible by Susan’s encouragement and support, and she nursed him with care and tenderness through the last days of his illness. His darling daughter, Kate, was a great joy, and he treasured her beautiful cards and paintings, which he frequently requested for birthday and holiday presents. From an early Red Sox passion to cooking and food (and everything in between), Tom treasured his son, Matt, eagerly looking forward to the next visit or phone call.

Tom delighted in his grandchildren. His love of cinema influenced grandson Steven to revisit Charlie Chaplin films in the middle of the night as a child. Granddaughter Isabella (“come una stella”) embraced music and reignited Tom’s passion for vinyl in recent years. Leo, the youngest, grew up listening to his grandfather’s magical baritone make its way through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. This led to shared dramatizations of Shakespeare plays on Sundays with his grandparents — always followed by Leo playing his violin, much to Tom’s joy.

Tom is survived by his wife, Susan; daughter, Kate Simone (Justin Beebe); son, Matt Simone (Lucy Simone); grandchildren, Leo Beebe, Isabella Simone and Steven Simone; and youngest brother, Paul. Tom is predeceased by his parents and brothers John and David.

Tom’s family is grateful for the care and treatment he received from Dr. Hibba tul Rehman and the care and support of the UVM Home Health & Hospice team and the staff at the McClure Miller Respite House.

Arrangements are in the care of the Cremation Society of Chittenden County, a division of the Ready Funeral Home. Please direct online condolences to cremationsocietycc.com. A memorial service will be scheduled for later this year. If you would like to honor Tom, please direct donations to the Vermont Symphony Orchestra or the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association.

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