Obituary: Paul Simonian

Family man, sports enthusiast, coach

Paul Simonian was born on February 7, 1931 in West New York, New Jersey. He died after a short illness on December 11, 2023 in Claremont.

Paul spent his early years in Manhattan, with a short time in Vermont while his father worked in the woolen mills there. His life journey then led him to Los Angeles in 1945, where he attended Fremont High School. He later pursued his education at Pepperdine College (now Pepperdine University), and earned his master’s degree at Azusa Pacific University. Initially drawn to the world of accounting, he ultimately chose a major in physical education, driven by his passion for the outdoors.

Embarking on a fulfilling teaching career, he began his professional journey at Baldwin Park High School, coaching football and forming lasting bonds with his students, who held a special place in his heart. After his time in Baldwin Park, he imparted his wisdom at La Puente for a couple of years before finding his home at Mt. San Antonio College. There, he continued his legacy as a coach, specializing in football, gymnastics, and volleyball. It was at Mt. SAC that he met Roxane, his wife of 51 years. Coaching wasn’t just a job for him: it was a way of life.

In 1976, he made Claremont his home and joined The Claremont Club, a place that became his second home, where he played racquetball, tennis, and his newfound love, pickleball.

He could be found at the club almost every day, seeking out games, coaching people new to a sport, and fostering a sense of community. He remained committed to an active lifestyle, running and walking regularly to prepare for the annual Fourth of July 5k. Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, he ran the Claremont 5k route on his 90th birthday. Masked up, friends and family ran the course with him. “He even got his picture in the Courier and a congratulations from the mayor, Jennifer Stark,” his family shared. “It was one of the highlights of his life.”

With the luxury of summers off, he embraced countless family vacations, with Yosemite being a cherished annual destination. Half Dome was conquered with his daughter Misty and some friends. “He was remembered saying, ‘I wonder what the rich folks are doing now,’ while sitting around the campfire,” his family said.

Upon retirement, he took to the open road, exploring the country in his motor home with his Jeep in tow. Adventures to Newfoundland and Alaska became unforgettable memories. This year held special significance as he shared the wonders of Tokyo with his grandson and the beauty of Italy with his granddaughter.

He was proud that both of his daughters enjoy sports and followed in his footsteps by choosing teaching careers. Weekends would find him cheering on his grandkids, Frida, Nailah, Troy, and Olyver, at soccer games, track and cross country meets, and other athletic activities.

Beyond his dedication to sports and adventure, he had a green thumb and cultivated a garden, featuring various grape varieties alongside seasonal vegetables and fruit trees. He enjoyed eating his fruit and vegetable harvests and sharing his bounty with friends.

“His legacy extends far beyond the playing field, embodying a life rich in love, laughter, and a steadfast commitment to family, friends, sports, and the pursuit of joy,” his family added. “Paul will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and all those whose lives he touched with his warmth, wisdom, and coaching spirit.”


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