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Loss often has the ability to render the most verbose, speechless. This is certainly the case for many grieving the loss of one of our time's greatest theater champions, Ron Simons.


It was a beautiful and heartbreaking sight to see his gorgeous face on the big screen during the In Memoriam segment of the 2024 Tony Awards program. Ron transitioned to become an angel just days before the broadcast, on June 12.

This loss is so personal. Arriving in New York on June 13, high on my list of to-do’s was to call Ron and see if he had any time to chop it up over a short lunch. Instead, I was on the receiving end of a text message notifying me of his passing.

A Black man with short graying hair wears a gray blazer and cream sweater and smiles into the camera with hands clasped in front of him.
Ron Simons, credit Bobby Quillard

I have a file folder on my computer titled RON SIMONS where all of the exciting information about Broadway projects he was working on is stored. We shared space together as members of the University of Washington Foundation Board. Joining him and other friends as members of the producing team for the Broadway revival of for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf is a memory ensconced within the Antoinette Perry Award (Tony nomination) seal of my framed certificate that sits on my desk. His passing is deeply felt.


Beyond all of the accolades and articles written about Ron, it was his humanity that was shown in his deep and abiding friendships. Once you were in the friend circle, you were in! Ron saw something special in every person with whom he interacted and often made introductions that would stun to know that he saw that special essence in us, or he would just outright lift our sense of self. He was the epitome of contradicting anyone’s tendency to play small.


Though Ron Simons is no longer in this physical world, those of us fortunate enough to have known him have guidance for how he would continue to lead. The name of his company, Simon Says Entertainment, is all we need. When words fail us, or when the courage is needed to step into spaces and places opened by Ron, we have only to ask, what would Simon say? What would Ron Simons do? Thanks to Ron Simons, the blueprint for continuing to reverse an imbalance of representation in the world of Broadway producing has been created.


In February 2022, ARTE NOIR proudly spotlighted Ron. You can read it here.

Ronald Keith Simons, November 30, 1960 - June 12, 2024

Screenshot of the In Memorium portion of the 2024 Tony Awards


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