Almost every morning, David Simon holds court at Smitty City. “It’s a good place to have a cup of coffee and socialize — to tell a few jokes and a few stories,” says David. Almost every customer greets him by name, and the former Grayson County sheriff knows their names as well.
His friendly smile and easy ways are instantly disarming. If you’re not already David’s friend, you will be as soon as you say hello or good morning.
The Simons — David and his wife Mary — live a few miles away in Peonia. But David’s story begins in Sunfish in nearby Edmonson County. That’s where he was born and raised, the seventh of eight children. In Sunfish he attended St. John’s school, but he didn’t graduate from high school. (Eventually, at age 59, he earned a GED.)
In 1954, David moved to Louisville, Kentucky. From 1955-1993, he worked in the refrigerator plant at GE Appliance Park.
In 1958, David married Mary (nee) Heaverin from Grayson Springs. The couple moved to Grayson Springs in 1963 (and finally to Peonia in 1980). For 30 years, David carpooled with coworkers in Grayson County to and from their jobs in Louisville.
The first of their seven children (6 girls, 1 boy) was born in 1959. The oldest was just 10 years old when the youngest child was born in 1969. Two of the seven children were twins, born seven minutes apart. (One of the twins, Darren, owns and operates Simon’s Heating & Cooling in Leitchfield.) David and Mary recently celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary. They have 12 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.
Partly to help support his large family, David ran for Constable of the 5th Magisterial District in Grayson County in 1985. He won the election and served as constable for two years.
In 1987, David became a part-time deputy sheriff in Grayson County, working mostly on the weekends.
In 1995, a few years after he retired from GE, David became a full-time deputy sheriff — a job that entailed some heart-wrenching duties. “The hardest thing I ever had to do was go to someone’s house and tell the parents of a teenage child that their teenager had been killed in an auto accident,” said David.
In 1997 (at age 60), David attended Department of Criminal Justice Training (Police Academy) in Richmond, Kentucky. He received an award for Outstanding Effort in Physical Fitness.
In 2001, David quit his job as deputy sheriff to run as a Democrat for Grayson County sheriff. “I didn’t expect to win. I ran against a Republican incumbent. But I had a lot of family and friends behind me,” he said.
“I never asked anyone to vote for me,” said David. “I told them that if they could vote for me, I’d appreciate it — and if they couldn’t, we would still be friends.”
“I must have gotten some Republican votes, else I wouldn’t have won,” David added.
David Simon served as Grayson County sheriff from 2003 to 2006. “I was honored to serve as sheriff,” said David. “I’m still thankful I had the opportunity to serve. I met a lot of good people — there are lots of good people in Grayson County.”
David didn’t run for reelection. He retired at the end of his four-year term. “I was getting up in years, and serving as sheriff required lots of long hours. After working two jobs for so many years, I was used to long hours, but I didn’t need the stress of being sheriff, and I wanted to spend more time with my family.”
Although he was elected twice to public office, David never thought of himself as a politician, and he isn’t keen on politics. “Two things I never liked to talk about are politics and religion,” he said.
He described his parents as “strong Republicans, like most of Edmonson County.” David became a Democrat sometime after he began working at GE in Louisville. “It seemed to me that the Democrats were more for the working man,” he explained.
When David isn’t holding court at Smitty City, he and his wife Mary enjoy their collection of classic vehicles. About 20 years ago, David had a 1995 Honda Gold Wing motorcycle converted into a three-wheel “trike” that he and Mary could ride safely, (more safely than a two-wheeled motorcycle).
A couple years ago, David bought a beautiful “candy red” 1952 Chevy pickup truck that they sometimes show off at car shows.
They also own a mostly original 1925 Model T Ford, a mostly restored 1931 Model A Ford, and a 1970 Ford Mustang convertible. His classic car collection is a hobby.
Back at Smitty City, an old pickup with a dead battery is stalled at the gas pumps. The motorist asks David for a jump start; he immediately agrees and goes to help.
He’s always friendly, and he’s always willing to serve his friends and neighbors. Politicians and public servants could learn a lot from David Simon.