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Simon takes home grown approach to inauguration  


January 7, 2011

Lt. Governor-elect Sheila Simon is taking a “home grown” approach to the inauguration, incorporating Illinois music, wine, fashions and mementos with family ties into the ceremony and celebration.

Simon will be sworn in Monday by retired Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann McMurrow, who made history with Simon’s late mother, Jeanne, in the 1950s when they were the first two women to serve as Assistant State’s Attorney’s in Cook County. Simon’s mother went on to serve in the Illinois House from 1957 to 1961.

Simon will take her oath of office on a bible that belonged to her late father, Paul, while he was in college based on the many notations in the margins. Among his many distinctions, Paul was part of the only ticket in Illinois history in which the governor and lieutenant governor were from opposing parties. He served as Lt. Governor from 1969 to 1973.

Father Joseph Brown will appear at the Prayer Breakfast on Monday morning on Simon’s request. Like Simon, Brown is a professor at Southern Illinois University where he directs the African American studies program, and he presided over the funeral of Simon’s father.

Simon will be accompanied by her husband, Perry, and her daughter, Reilly, at the ceremony and ball. Simon sewed the 1940s-era Vogue patterned, wool suit she will wear to the inauguration and both designed and sewed her full-length, raw silk dress for the ball. She purchased the materials at Fishman’s Fabrics, a family-owned business in Chicago since 1903.

On the eve of the inauguration, Simon’s band, Loose Gravel, will perform at an Illinois wine reception hosted in her honor at the Illinois Education Association professional development center. Simon plays banjo and bassoon in the all-female quartet, which formed about 12 years ago at a backyard picnic.