Barneveld, WI Tornado, Jun 1984 - Simon Family


By Don Behm

Journal Waukesha Bureau

Oconomowoc - A father, mother and daughter died last week - victims of a tornado that struck Barneveld early last Friday morning.

The two youngest children in the Simon family will take places in a larger family now. Grandparents, aunts and uncles live in the Oconomowoc - Watertown area.

At a funeral here Tuesday night, more than 225 relatives and firends recalled the three victims.

Bruce Michael Simon, 35, had instructed emergency medical technicians from communities throughout southern Wisconsin. His wife, Jill Marie, 31, had cared for their three children at home and was a volunteer adult leader for a group of campfire girls. The third victim, their oldest daughter, Cassandra Marie, 8, had successfully encouraged them to join a Lutheran congregation earlier this year.

The father, mother and daughter were among the nine people killed last Friday when the tornado plowed its deadly furrow across the small town in Iowa County.

Two children didn't attend

The family's two surviving children did not attend Tuesday's funeral, held at the Pagenkopf Funeral Home, 1165 Summit Ave., Oconomowoc.

Trevor Simon, 2, remains in the intensive care unit at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison. He is in good condition.

A sister, Andrea, 5, is a resident at the Central Wisconsin Center for the Developmentally Disabled in Madison, a state institution for the severely handicapped.

Andrea, the Simon's second daughter, was born with multiple handicaps, and the family decided last year that Andrea should live at the center.

Richard Simon, Bruce's brother, said that he and other relatives had not decided who would receive custody of the children.

"They will not have the opportunity to continue to know their family," said the Rev. Robert Twiton of Barneveld Lutheran Church, who officiated at Tuesday's ceremony. "Why such a tragic thing should take their parents, their sister, we don't know."

Earlier in the service, Twiton told four generations of mourners: "The tragedy that struck our little community is beyond comprehension."

The tornado destroyed 93 of 225 homes in the village and damaged most others.

Many mourners

Relatives and friends of the Simon family filled three rooms and a long hallway inside the funeral home. Many of the mourners represented emergency medical teams from southern Wisconsin communities.

Simon taught both basic emergency medical classes and the refresher classes as an instructor at Madison Area Technical College.

Fred Thompson, a volunteer emergency medical technician with Baraboo Fire and Ambulance, was one of eight EMT team members from that unit attending the funeral.

"He taught a lot of us up around our area," Thompson said.

Among the other EMT units represented at the funeral were those from Barneveld, Reedsburg, Monona, Lake Mills, Mount Horeb and Fitchburg - Verona. Simon was a member of the Barneveld emergency medical technician team.

A long line of mourners filed past the tree coffins before and after the service.

"We come with broken hearts," Twiton said. "What then shall we say to this?"

A photo of the tornado's three victims had been placed atop a flag-draped coffin. A wedding photo and two photos of Cassandra were placed on tables in the funeral home's main parlor.

"They're going to be sorely missed," Margaret Twiton said.

Bruce Simon is survived by his parents, Theodore and Eileen Simon of Watertown; a grandmother, Emma Simon; and three brothers.

Jill is survived by her parents, Jack and Janet Brodersen of Oconomowoc, and one sister.

Burial was scheduled for Wednesday at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Madison.

The Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, WI 11 Jun 1984