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One Monticello Life: Dr. Sylvia Simon

October 3rd, 2010 by

The oldest of seven children, Sylvia Simon describes life growing up as “very busy.” Raised mostly in Warren, AR, she says that things in her family were a little different than in your traditional family.

“We didn’t watch TV at all, so we entertained ourselves in other ways like gardening, quilting, crocheting, and things like that. I’m really an old lady I guess because those are still the things I do.. those are my hobbies now.”

Dr. Simon spoke of the large age gaps between her and her younger siblings. She laughed at the thought that her youngest brother is only 12, and is currently attending school at Warren Junior High.

Looking at her very successful medical practice today, many would assume that Sylvia was raised with a huge support system. Instead, she says that her biological father never believed in education for women. She said that it pushed her to become who she is today.

“I remember I had a shirt as a girl that said “Anything boys can do, girls can do better” and I wore it all of the time.”

Sylvia also found amazing support from her mother and stepfather, Debra and Steve Richardson.

“Steve always supported us, especially in education. He wanted to see us succeed.”

Succeed she did! After graduating from Warren High School in 1991, Sylvia headed straight to college at University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Amazingly, in her third year of college, she was accepted into medical school at UAMS in Little Rock.

“My family jokes that I’m a doctor with no college degree.. I never finished college. I just went straight to med school because I met all of their pre-requisites. It was kind of embarrassing because my mom had to go with me to med school to sign all of my papers because I wasn’t 21 yet.”

When asked what the hardest part of medical school was, Sylvia replied,

“The sheer volume of information you’re required to learn. They give you these big thick books, and while you’re reading it you just think, “If I don’t learn this, I could kill someone!””

The best part of medical school was, hands down, “My husband!”

Tim Simon met Sylvia for the first time in college in Fayetteville, and when he saw her again at med school, he went to say hello. While trying to explain that he thought they had met before, Sylvia became annoyed at yet another man trying to pick her up.

“I was just there to get an education, and here comes another guy trying to date me, so I think I said something like “I’ve never met you before in my life!” and just walked away. It took us dating for around a year for him to even bring it up again that we had, indeed, met in college. He told me where we were and when it was and I finally remembered. “Oh, I really did meet you before!””

Tim and Sylvia started dating during Sylvia’s second year of medical school, and were married between years 3 and 4 on June 29, 1997.

“We were married on a Sunday because we had final exams on Friday and Saturday. We had to get a special exemption from the church because they never did weddings on Sundays, but it was the only day we had. We planned the wedding in 3 days, we just had other things to focus on. I picked out my wedding dress because it was the first one I tried on in my size that fit.”

After leaving UAMS, Sylvia headed to Wichita, KS to start her 3 year residency. She attended a Catholic Family Practice program, which is one of the largest in the country. It’s specifically for practicing medicine in rural or missionary work. It was quite a unique training experience due to the 3 priests and the nuns that still worked in the hospital.

“I was going through conversion classes at the time to become Catholic, and I actually got kicked out of my class because I was on call at the hospital and I couldn’t leave the hospital. That was embarrassing at the time but a little funny now that I think back. I did finally finish the classes once I got back to Monticello.”

Once residency was over, Dr. Simon knew that she wanted to return back to her home area. She immediately began practicing with Dr. Wallick at Monticello Medical Clinic in 2001. He started the clinic and was both a mentor and great friend to Sylvia.

“He was very dear to me. I was actually a paul bearer at his funeral in June of 2002.”

Though many Monticello residents know Sylvia as Dr. Simon, two other people in the community simply know her as “Mom.” Emma, 9 years old, and Pete, 4 years old, are the most precious things in Sylvia’s life.

“Growing up I never understood why a woman would want to get married and have children… I always said I’d never be like that. Now I’ve women’s libbed myself into a corner.. I just want to be a stay at home mom!”

Sylvia said that when her children were babies she never wanted to put them down.

“I just held them constantly. My mom said that it’s a good thing I work, because if I stayed home with them, they’d never learn to walk.”

Weekends at the Simon’s household is spent as a family, with all of the focus on the children.

“It isn’t that we’re anti-social, but we just really don’t want anything else to take away from our time with the kids. We love to spend the weekends hunting, fishing, swimming, cooking, and sewing with the kids.”

Sylvia loves to cook, and her kids equally enjoy this quality time with their mom. They also have fun learning how to quilt and sew from their mom, and even Pete has his own crocheting tools.

“The only way to keep him out of Emma’s set was to get him his own. I think it’s a great life skill for boys to learn. There’s a good chance that he’ll need to know how to fix something one day and he won’t have to depend on someone else to do it for him.”

Dr. Simon said that they don’t watch much TV in their household because it serves as such a distraction from the family. Their main focus when at home is just being together, and making every minute count.

Sylvia was asked to finish each sentence:

In five years, I’d really like to…
“Have productive children. I really have so many blessings, I just can’t ask for anything more.”

If I could change the world in one way…
“I would make it fair.”

My biggest passion in life right now is…
“My family.”

Nothing can make me laugh like…
“My kids.. particularly the silly stuff they fight over.”

When people think of me I hope they think…
“That I’m competent, kind, and fair.”

Food – Chocolate (as she showed her amazing stash in her office)
Restaurant – Ameca
Book – Bible
Past Time – Sewing – “But I really hate sewing clothes. My seams are never quite right.”

7 Responses to “One Monticello Life: Dr. Sylvia Simon”

  1. Marty Baker says:

    Dr. Syliva was a great choice to do this article on. She is truely a great person, mom, wife and doctor!! Also sets a good example for others to follow. My mother (Ollie Baker) thought the world of Dr. Sylvia!!

  2. Miyoshi Smith says:

    Dr. Sylvia is a wonderful lady. She cares about her patients and takes the time to find out what is wrong. We are blessed to have a lady like Dr. Sylvia in the medical field. Thank you for all you do. May God continue to bless you and your family.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Some people say that to be an angel you have to have wings. But not in this case. She has took ccare of my family for 8 yrs. and has done thae best she knew how. If there was something that puzzled her she fount it out and returned the call. My hat goes off to SYLIVA SIMON, and thanks again, for carrying those wings under your lab coat.

  4. Eva Arrington says:

    She is a marvel!!! She took such care with my late mother, Patricia Jenkins. My son, Evan, ENJOYS going to the doctor because he’ll get to see Dr. Sylvia. I agree that she was an excellent choice for this article!

  5. Martha Barbee says:

    SHe is a wonderful lady & doctor and one of the most beautiful women I have ever met.

  6. Melissa Franks says:

    I have never met a dr with so much passion and knowledge as Dr. Simon. She checks everything and is explains everything. She saved my sons life when he was a week old. When he was sent to children’s, his Dr. there told me that she called everyday to check on him. She is amazing!

  7. dean says:

    we moved from monticello to monroe, LA over 2 years ago, and i know we’ll never find a better doctor than when we were under dr. sylvia’s care. she is THE most thorough and compassionate MD i’ve ever been treated by. if our insurance didn’t limit us to louisiana doctors, we’d still be driving to monticello to be cared for by dr. sylvia!

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