Bill Simon, the co-founder of Freddy's Frozen Custard, died on Saturday after a battle with cancer. He was 61.
Simon, the son of Freddy’s namesake Freddy Simon, was best known recently for starting the successful Freddy’s Frozen Custard chain with his brother, Randy Simon, and business partner, Scott Redler. The trio opened their first restaurant in Wichita in 2002 and now have 237 stores in 30 states.
Redler said he will miss his friend’s calming spirit and business sense.
“Bill’s always been a great thinker, and in a critical decision, he was a great one to have sitting at table,” he said. “It’s wonderful when things are going well, but Bill is always somebody who, if we ever got into a jam in any way shape or form, he was the one I wanted in my corner.”
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Simon graduated from Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School in 1973 and from Kansas State University, where he studied accounting, in 1978. He returned to Wichita and worked as a CPA, then served on the board and as vice-president of Comcoa, a large, Wichita-based franchisee of Pizza Huts, Rent-A-Center and other chains.
In 1996, Barry Schwan introduced Redler and Bill Simon, and Redler persuaded him to partner to open Timberline Steakhouse, which had seven restaurants in six cities over the years, including two in Wichita.
Simon had been diagnosed with cancer some time ago but had been keeping it under control, Redler said. The illness took a turn quickly in recent months, Redler said. He was just at a meeting with Simon two weeks ago, and a month ago, on Veteran’s Day, Simon appeared in a segment for ABC World News Tonight that featured his father, a World War II veteran.
Redler said he admired how Simon faced his declining health.
“Bill put huge importance on family, friends and religion. What he did for his family and kids and friends was amazing,” Redler said. “Near the end, when he knew – and he knew months ago – his spirit and attitude were something I don’t think you’d see in many people on this earth. He sat here knowing that his body was failing, and there was never a pity party. He had an incredible positive mental attitude on life, on what’s been accomplished and on the future, even though he knew his was short.”
Simon is survived by his wife, Sally Simon, five grown children and one grandchild as well as his parents, Freddy and Norma Jean Simon, and four siblings.
Rosary will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and funeral mass will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 1321 Stratford Lane.