1959 — 2009
Mervyn was my eldest brother and an inspiring individual to me and countless others.
Mervyn Emond Simon was born in Manzanilla, Trinidad on December 10, 1959. At the age of 16, Mervyn emigrated to the United States, where he settled in Silver Spring, Maryland with our mother in the mid-1970s.
But it wasn’t long before Mervyn fell in love with another city more suitable to his insatiable curiosity – New York. He mounted an aggressive effort to relocate there and eventually, his non-stop pleading worked.
In a single-parent household that struggled financially, Mervyn provided support by working at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Crown Heights branch. He proudly embraced his role as “man of the house” without complaint while attending George W. Wingate High School. A strong proponent of physical fitness and a humorous storyteller, Mervyn received a bachelor’s degree from the New York Institute of Technology.
Throughout his life, Mervyn tried to instill in others (myself included) an appreciation for history, a knowledge of self, and the importance of public engagement.
For more than 25 years, Mervyn worked for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), where he worked as an engineer. He was an active union delegate and a strong supporter of District Council 37, the largest municipal employees union in New York City. As a civic-minded humanitarian, Mervyn also supported a broad network of people in the two regions he loved most: Brooklyn and several townships in Trinidad.
Every day of his life, Mervyn encouraged family members and friends with his signature phrase, “Hold it down.”
In my career, he was tremendously influential. It was Mervyn, for example, who first told me of Colin Warner’s 21 years of wrongful incarceration in New York and led me down the path to doing a story about the case. In 2010, I reflected on Mervyn for City Limits in an essay that can be read here.