SI­MONS

The Covington News - - Front page -

in a way few of us ever can,” said his niece Les­lie Ma­son.

He was fea­tured on the cover of the Sept. 2, 1957, edi­tion of “Life” mag­a­zine for his work on the U.S. Air Force’s Man High project, which was cre­ated to de­sign a space cap­sule pro­to­type and study the ef­fects of cos­mic ra­di­a­tion on the body. Af­ter test­ing the ef­fects of sim­u­lated space flight on mon­keys, Si­mons him­self went up in a sealed alu­minum cap­sule held aloft by a 3-mil­lion cu­bic­foot bal­loon. He spent 32 hours in the cap­sule, 19 miles above earth, above 99 per­cent of the earth’s at­mos­phere: the long­est such flight at that alti­tude. The his­tory chan­nel also cov­ered the project.

“Dur­ing the flight I ex­pe­ri­enced fear that ap­proached panic. It would be silly to deny it. There were crises that might have been fa­tal to any­one but a trained bal­loon­ist who was also an aeromed­i­cal physi­cian and am­a­teur me­te­o­rol­o­gist,” he said in his first-hand ac­count in “Life.”

Si­mons was all those things and much more. When peo­ple would ask his as­sis­tant to speak to him about the Man High ex­pe­ri­ence, he would say that was in the past and he wanted to talk about what he was do­ing now. He could prob­a­bly be di­ag­nosed as a worka­holic, given how of­ten a new idea would pop into his brain and cause him to work. Per­sonal as­sis­tant Sharon Barker said friends would fre­quently drive by and see the lights on at 2 a.m. in the morn­ing.

But Si­mons also had a won­der­ful sense of hu­mor and al­ways em­pha­sized the pos­i­tive traits that he saw in oth­ers. He was quick to praise and used any suc­cess as a rea­son cel­e­brate.

Whether it was fin­ish­ing a chap­ter in a book or suc­cess­fully turn­ing an idea into a project, Si­mons would fre­quently take his staff of re­search as­sis­tants out for din­ner. He also had a sign on the wall that sim­ply said “Yippee”; he would un­cover it when the group ac­com­plished a task.

The group had fre­quent suc­cesses dur­ing the years Si­mons spent try­ing to find the cause of chronic mus­cle pain. His daugh­ter Su­san Ganstrom said Si­mons worked in the field for nearly 40 years, be­cause he cared about peo­ple. In the 1970s doc­tors didn’t un­der­stand mus­cle pain and didn’t know what caused dis­or­ders like charley horses and TMJ; so they ig­nored the causes and sim­ply treated the symp­toms.

“He cared about peo­ple, and as a doc­tor, he got frus­trated at the num­ber of peo­ple in pain, and didn’t want them to be on pain pills for the rest of their lives. What kind of a so­lu­tion is this? Let’s pi­o­neer a so­lu­tion,” she said.

Si­mons be­came the lead­ing au­thor­ity in the field, af­ter col­lab­o­rat­ing with the field’s orig­i­nal pi­o­neer Dr. Janet Trav­ell. She said the field fo­cused on study­ing why mus­cles locked up and how to un­lock them, also known as my­ofas­cial trig­ger points, through meth­ods like mas­sages and ice treat­ments. Over the past sev­eral years, Si­mons had worked with teach­ers at Ge­or­gia State Uni­ver­sity and doc­tors at Mercer Uni­ver­sity, in ad­di­tion to the hun­dreds of doc­tors he com­mu­ni­cated with around the globe.

Barker said two of his mentees at Mercer will work with Si­mons’ re­search as­sis­tants to com­plete the third vol­ume on trig­ger points. Sur­pris­ingly, none of Si­mons’ as­sis­tants are med­i­cal ex­perts, but that didn’t mat­ter to Si­mons. Barker and as­sis­tant Sa­man­tha Pierce said their in­ter­views fo­cused more on per­son­al­ity.

“He in­stalled confi- dence in you and never talked down to you. I told him when I was first hired that I had no med­i­cal back­ground, but he talked to me like a col­league. If you asked, he would ex­plain things to you again and again,” Barker said.

At the same time he was a per­fec­tion­ist, and ex­pected the work that he and his team pro­duced to be great. And when fel­low doc­tors and re­searches asked for him for feed­back about their work, he would tell them his hon­est opin­ion, be­cause faulty work didn’t help any­one.

Si­mons had many per­son­al­ity quirks, whether it was his abil­ity to ar­gue on any sub­ject, his phi­los­o­phy that ver­bal was ac­tu­ally the worst form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion or the fact he had to re­design ev­ery gad­get and de­vice he ever bought. But in the end, it was his determination to make the world a bet­ter place that left the big­gest im­pres­sion on those around him.

He con­vinced his care­giver An­gela Hol­comb she could some day be a nurse and even­tu­ally a doc­tor. He con­vinced his in­ex­pe­ri­enced as­sis­tants they could turn his bril­liant ideas into re­al­ity. He con­vinced his chil­dren they could be a help­ful force in the world, whether it’s Ganstrom, who is a school nurse in Idaho,

Si­mons ap­peared on the cover of the Sept. 2, 1957, is­sue of “Life” Mag­a­zine for his voy­age to the edge of space, which car­ried him 19 miles into the at­mos­phere. his son Scott Si­mons, a physics teacher in Detroit, daugh­ter Sally Whit­ters, a li­brar­ian in Cal­i­for­nia and son Sam Si­mons, a com­puter en­gi­neer.

In a fit­ting end­ing, Si­mons will be cre­mated and his ashes will be taken to the New Mex­ico moun­tains, where the stars are bright­est be­cause of the dry desert air. As in so many fields, Si­mons was an am­a­teur as­tronomer.

The memo­rial ser­vice will be held at 2 p.m., May 15 at the Good Shep­herd Epis­co­pal Church, where he and his wife were long-time mem­bers. The David Good­man Si­mons memo­rial fund will also be set up at Mercer Uni­ver­sity in his name to con­tinue re­search into solv­ing chronic mus­cle pain.

Up, up and away:

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.