Passion for Pratt

Pratt Board of Visitors Chair J. Stephen Simon Dies

J. Stephen Simon, chair of the Board of Visitors for the Pratt School of Engineering and a former director and senior vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation, passed away unexpectedly at his home in Dallas, Texas, on July 8, at age 66.

"Steve retired just last year from his position as Executive Vice President of Exxon Mobil," said Tom Katsouleas, dean of the Pratt School of Engineering. "Since retirement he had redirected his considerable energy and talent to his second passion — education. He was notably excited about what he saw as the upward progress of the Pratt School on the national scene. When Duke hosted the NAE Grand Challenges Summit last spring, both Steve and (wife) Susie attended every session, and they provided the lead gift to launch a new national education program called the NAE Grand Challenge Scholars at Duke.

"I attended the memorial service along with our development deans Judge Carr and Chris Clarke," Katsouleas continued. "Steve's colleague Rex Tillerson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ExxonMobil, recalled how the two frequently discussed their outside interests and first for Steve was always his passion for Duke. On a personal level, Steve was a tremendous support to me in my first year here as dean and I will sorely miss him."

Simon had a distinguished career of more than 40 years with the corporation. During this time he held a series of increasingly senior roles, culminating in his election to the board of directors in 2006. He retired from the company on May 31, 2008. Simon joined Exxon Company, U.S.A. in June 1967 and shortly thereafter began a two-year assignment in the United States Army.

He returned to Exxon U.S.A. in July 1969 as a business analyst in the Baton Rouge Refinery. After holding a variety of supervisory and managerial positions throughout the Baton Rouge and Baytown refineries, and Exxon U.S.A.'s Refining and Controller's departments, Simon became executive assistant to Exxon U.S.A.'s executive vice president, located in Houston.

He held several positions with the company in New York, London and Italy. He returned to the United States in 1997 and was named an executive vice president of Exxon Company, International, headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey. In December 1999, he was appointed president of ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Company and vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation. In December 2004, he became senior vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation and in January 2006 was elected to the board of the corporation.

Beyond his leadership roles at ExxonMobil, Simon also served on the boards of many voluntary organizations over the course of his career, including the United Way, the Boy Scouts, and the Salvation Army.

He was also a member of the Governance Committee of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering and had served on the board of the US-China Business Council, the American Petroleum Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers. Following his retirement from ExxonMobil, he became Chair of the Board of Visitors for Duke University's School of Engineering and had also been active in support of the Children's Advocacy Center in Dallas.

In his memory, the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University has established the J. Stephen Simon Scholarship Endowment Fund. Memorial contributions to the J. Stephen Simon Scholarship Endowment Fund may be made to Duke University in care of Judge Carr, 305 Teer Engineering Building, Box 90271, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708.