Bob Simon Remembered for Sense of Humor, Stellar Reporting

By Chris Ariens 

CBS News60 Minutes producer Tanya Simon recalled the time she wanted to “crawl into the TV” to find her father. It had been days since she’d seen him on the news. Her father, longtime CBS News correspondent Bob Simon, was covering the war in Vietnam, and Tanya, then a little girl, wasn’t sure when she’d see him again.

Of course, he always came back from those reporting trips, usually with gifts. “He would give me those ‘do not disturb signs’ from hotel room doors” from Beirut, Saigon, Sarajevo and beyond, she joked.

But it was when he was leaving the comfort of his West 57th St. office one night, that Bob Simon didn’t come back.

Tanya Simon was at the 60 Minutes office that awful Wednesday in February when the show’s ep Jeff Fager called with the horrible news. Her father had been killed in a car accident.

“CBS has always been like family,” Tanya Simon said at a memorial service for her father this morning. “Now more than ever.”

Hundreds gathered at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall for the memorial service. Cameraman Norman Lloyd talked about how Simon saved his life in Vietnam. Longtime 60 Minutes producer Joel Bernstein called Simon his “best friend.” They’d known each other for 50 years. Producer Michael Gavshon recalled one of his final conversations with Simon the day he died: “Should I be going for Brian Williams‘s job or Jon Stewart‘s,” Simon joked. It was just the night before that Williams was suspended from NBC, and Stewart announced his retirement from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.

Among the attendees: longtime CBS Newsman Dan Rather, former CBS News and CBS president Sir Howard Stringer, ABC’s David Muir and NBC’s Meredith Vieira, who was a 60 Minutes correspondent from 1989-1991, and of course the 60 Minutes team lead by Jeff Fager and CBS News staffers led by president David Rhodes.

“We were buddies, partners in crime,” Tanya Simon lovingly explained. The first story father and daughter worked on was in 1997, when Tanya was a producer for 48 Hours. They found themselves in Paris covering the death of Princess Diana. The story was about “living in the fast lane and dying in it,” Tanya Simon explained.

As a large picture of Bob Simon loomed over the service, Tanya Simon quoted a phrase found in her father’s belongings. “It’s better to die under the sun, than in the rain.”

CBS News

(Photos: John Paul Filo/CBS)

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