Hall of Fame Inductee – Reunion 2003
Generations of athletes were influenced by Harry Simester in his 36 years as Drew’s basketball coach, athletic director, department chair, and creator of the intramural program. For all those years and many more, Drew athletes have also been guided, encouraged, and befriended by Helen Simester.
The Simesters met when Helen was a student, and Harry a physical education instructor, at Ohio Wesleyan University. They were married in 1934 in Helen’s native Floral Park, Long Island, and moved to Summit, New Jersey for Harry’s work with YMCA programs there. The Simesters arrived at Drew in 1935, when Harry was appointed assistant professor of physical education. Helen had “a love for Harry’s work from the beginning,” never missed a basketball game, attended all events, and, with Harry, chaperoned many a dance and house party and entertained students in their home. They formed close friendships with students, with many of whom Helen still corresponds.
The birth of the Simesters’ first son, George, added another dimension to life. Helen, who had taught French for three years before marriage and later substituted in the Summit high school, began to teach preschoolers in George’s nursery school. After the birth of James, eight years later, she formed and taught a small nursery school which continued for 16 years at the Simesters’ home in Madison. She also assisted the Drew Registrar’s Office intermittently over 45 years.
Helen Simester has a four-point program for enjoying life and maintaining robust health at 92: physical activity, good diet, mental stimulation, and always having something to look forward to. Although she claims that age has curtailed her activities, time does not hang heavy upon her hands. She still attends nearly every basketball game and many Drew functions. She volunteers with the Madison Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), making phone calls to the homebound. She serves on the committee for the Madison Public Library Senior Seminars, spends one day a month with fellow Methodists producing the church publication, and is a regular member of a retired faculty wives’ reading and discussion group. She reads widely, confesses to an addiction to crossword puzzles, entertains friends, and is making a scrapbook of Harry Simester’s life and achievements. She looks forward to the new basketball season.
Helen Simester has missed her husband since his death in 1989, but she celebrates their wonderful 55 years together and enjoys their two sons and two granddaughters. We celebrate and rejoice in Helen Simester’s long history with Drew, and affectionately wish to keep her forever.