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What Some May Not Know about Bob Simon

20 questions not often asked of Reston’s founder.

1. When you were little, what did you want to grow up to be?

I was between following my father into real estate and for some reason, rather, I thought I might want to be a psychiatrist. The idea was to help people do better to overcome things that hit them that they didn’t have any control over.

2. Did you have a role model growing up?

My father. He was an office boy at a real estate company and at 21 he made partner. He obviously showed some talent fairly early.

3. What do you collect?

I’m not a collector. I don’t need possession of things to make me happy.

4. What do you have in your pockets?

Keys, credit cards, cash, handkerchief and glasses.

5. Who is your favorite author?

Probably [Charles] Dickens.

6. What book should everyone read?

The Bible, the King James version. It is a combination of history and our language. It’s a part of our culture. I am an atheist if that’s of interest.

7. What is your favorite Broadway show?

"Guys and Dolls," Frank Lesser. His lyrics are great.

8. What is your favorite drink?

Martini. Big olives, straight up.

9. What is your favorite food?

If I was stuck on a desert island and I had to choose four things to eat and drink, I would choose milk, bananas, peanut butter and smoked salmon. I love peanut butter.

10. What is your favorite sport?

Tennis.

11. What was your favorite speaking engagement?

High school graduation at South Lakes, some seven, eight, nine years ago. I told the kids if they didn’t like what they were getting, they should drop out.

12. What is your favorite vacation destination?

Europe. It has wonderful history, architecture and the people know how to live much better than we do. They have plazas all over the place. They have humor in their communities and many parks.

13. Name three things that annoy you.

Bureaucracy, hypocrisy and that we’re scared of sex and scared of the human body.

14. Is there anything you haven’t done yet that is on your ‘To do’ list?

Certain travel and writing a book on education.

15. What is Reston’s hidden treasure?

Lake Anne

16. Is Reston diverging from the vision you had for it in the 1960s?

The pluses are 50 miles of trails and 26 underpasses, which probably rates in the Guiness Book of Records. The respect for the open spaces has been very good. The negatives are that the town center was a 476-acre piece of ground from Target to Home Depot. They destroyed town center by selling 50 acres to the county. Town center will never work as a whole because of super highways that run by it. This is not to be misunderstood, I take great pleasure in what’s now called town center, the area around the pavilion. It’s a great gathering place, it’s a wonderful place.

There is only one village center, the others are shopping centers. I am hoping over the long haul these shopping centers will become village centers. We put a lot of stress in architecture [in the 1960s]. All around Lake Anne there are little bits of fantasy — the fountain and the pyramid.

17. Who in Reston would you ask these 20 questions?

My wife.

18. Where is a good opportunity to build the next Reston?

China. They will have an awful lot of building.

19. What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I rode a steer in a rodeo. I was 19 years old, in Snowflake, Arizona, and they asked for a volunteer to do it, and I was dumb enough to volunteer. I didn’t follow the rules, and the ride lasted 10 seconds.

20. As a 93-year-old, what would you say is important in life?

Happiness. Pursuit of happiness is what the Founding Fathers said we should have and we have lost track of that in this society.