‘Nobody knew he had that kind of money:’ Kettering vet wills $100K to schools

Korean War veteran and generous volunteer Charlie Simon wanted to help special needs programs for students.



KETTERING — The generosity Charlie Simon was known for in life is continuing several months after his death and may benefit Kettering students for years.

A recently accepted donation from the estate of the Korean War veteran will provide Kettering City Schools with $100,000 for its special needs programs, according to the district.

“Si’s donation is truly valued, and we will be intentional and purposeful about this wonderful opportunity to create a lasting impact for students with special needs,” Kevin Wright, the school district’s supervisor of special education services, said in an email.

The donation was consistent with the charitable nature of the longtime Kettering resident who died in November 2022 at 94, said Cathy Magness, pastoral associate at the Church of the Ascension.

“He was just a very humble man who liked to be behind-the-scenes and nobody knew that he had that kind of money,” Magness said.

Simon and his wife of 59 years, Alberta, who died in 2011, had no children. He drove a truck for Frito-Lay for several decades, she was a registered nurse and both donated blood frequently, according to their obituaries.

He left a “substantial amount” to Ascension School, next to the church where he served as head usher for more than 50 years, Magness said.

Simon also helped out the Greenmont-Oak Park Community Church food pantry, collecting leftover bread and baked goods on a weekly basis from Panera Bread, she said.

“Charlie had a generous spirit and was young at heart,” Magness said. “He was very proud of his faith. He was always concerned for the well-being of other people.”

Simon also volunteered at the Kettering Recreation Complex for 25 years, teaching special needs children how to swim, according to his obituary.

Years ago, the KRC had a program providing public school special needs students pool access under the supervision of volunteers like Simon, said Rory Korzan, KRC assistant aquatics coordinator.

“I was (life) guarding and I got to witness all of this hands-on activity with kids and … it didn’t matter what their ability was,” Korzan said.

“For some of them it was just to get them in and have the experience to have fun with the kids and some of it was to actually teach them how to swim,” he said.

With Simon’s estate donation to Kettering Schools, Wright said he is working with the district’s special education coordinators to decide how the money can help the students “for years to come.”

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