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January 19, 2003

City man ‘ had a whole lot to say ’

From: Nashua Telegraph, NH - 19 Jan 2003

By KAREN SPILLER, Telegraph Staff

NASHUA – Normand Simoneau may have been deaf, but he had a tremendous vision.

As a young boy, he would look at the series of cottages his father owned on Hampton Beach, but he didn’t see cottages.

He saw a parking lot.

Simoneau started selling parking spaces to cars on portions of his father’s property. When he was 18, he talked his father into selling him the land and the cottages. He tore the cottages down and the Ashworth Avenue property became a parking lot – the first big private lot on Hampton Beach.

Simoneau owned and operated Simco Parking for 39 years, despite his handicap. He retired about five years ago.

On Thursday night, the 67-year-old died at a hospital in Delray Beach, Fla., after he was hit by a car. He and his wife, Linda, had been staying at a relative’s condominium for a few weeks.

“I suspect most people just thought of him as this quiet, deaf guy,” said his son, Kirk Simoneau, 31, of Bedford.

“He was more than just some anonymous deaf man that couldn’t necessarily communicate with them the way they would have liked,” he said. “He had a whole lot to say. But they couldn’t hear it.”

His family described him as a hardworking, honest man who did anything for anyone – especially his family.

Simoneau and his wife, Linda, 59, enjoyed traveling. She said she is going to miss just being with him every day.

“We used to do everything together,” she said.

“She pretty much lost her best friend,” added his oldest son, Marc Simoneau, 33, of Nashua.

Their father always worked hard, trying to set a good example for the family. He was always there and always willing to take care of his family first, Marc Simoneau said.

Kirk Simoneau, who runs Simco Creative Communications, got most of his business education from his father and grandfather, the late Alexandre Simoneau, who owned the former Simoneau Coal & Oil of Nashua. He died in May 2001 at the age of 102.

Normand Simoneau was smart. And stubborn, his son said.

“He decided on his own what was right or wrong to run a business and stuck with it,” Kirk said. “I think he did things well.”

Whether it was setting prices or putting up signs, he knew what to do. Especially when it came time to respond to competition.

Simoneau was in his 60s, but would still stand outside in the hot weather waving orange flags for cars to enter his lot and not those of his competitors.

“He didn’t care,” Kirk Simoneau said. “He wanted to make sure he got every car he could possibly get regardless of what he had to do to get it.”

Customers got to know Simoneau, and got attached.

“A lot of customers would specifically go to my dad’s parking lot, and, if he wasn’t there, would ask, ‘How is your father?’ ”

There was one couple who went back to Simco Parking every year for 20-something years, Kirk said.

“When he retired, they said, ‘Well, I guess I won’t be coming to the beach anymore.’ ”

Simoneau and his three sons, Kirk, Peter and Marc, were a family at the parking lot. When customers came to their lot, they made them part of their family.

Even when he retired, he wouldn’t do anything leisurely, such as golf. He preferred to work – whether it be building something or raking the leaves.

He could watch a home improvement show and turn around and build the same thing without instructions.

“He could just see something and know how to do it,” Kirk said.

He loved history, following the stock market, watching football and the Red Sox.

He enjoyed life to the fullest, despite his deafness.

Kirk and his father once had a conversation during which the elder Simoneau told him that he wouldn’t want to be able to hear.

“He said, ‘no.’ God made him deaf, he was deaf.

“You don’t have to hear to be a full person,” Kirk said.

© 2003, Telegraph Publishing Company, Nashua, New Hampshire