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James Harris Simons Passes Away at 86

Simons is best known for his instrumental role in establishing the Nick Simons Institute (NSI).
May 12, 2024
James Harris Simons

James Harris Simons, the founder of Nick Simons Institute, a foundation dedicated to improving rural healthcare in Nepal, has passed away. The institute, established in memory of Simons’ son, has played a pivotal role in strengthening Nepal’s healthcare infrastructure.

James Harris Simons, a renowned mathematician, philanthropist, and one of America’s wealthiest individuals, passed away on May 10th in New York. He was 86 years old. Simons is best known for his instrumental role in establishing the Nick Simons Institute (NSI), a foundation dedicated to improving Nepal’s rural healthcare system.

The creation of NSI was inspired by a personal tragedy. Simons’ youngest son, Nick, tragically drowned in Bali in 2003 after a volunteer stint in Nepal. During his time in Nepal, Nick witnessed firsthand the challenges faced by rural communities in accessing quality healthcare. To honor his son’s legacy and fulfill his desire to serve the people of Nepal, Simons and his wife, Marilyn, established NSI in 2005.

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Since its inception, NSI has played a pivotal role in strengthening Nepal’s healthcare infrastructure, particularly in remote areas. The institute has focused on training healthcare workers, providing essential equipment, supporting safe maternity services, and improving district hospitals’ overall quality of care.

Public health expert and NSI member, Dr. Baburam Marasini, recalls Simons’ commitment to improving healthcare in Nepal. “In 2005, James Harris came to the Ministry of Health and announced his plan to improve health services in rural areas,” said Dr. Marasini. “Twenty years ago, hospitals were not so organized, they worked to strengthen health services by training health workers from hospitals.”

NSI’s impact has been felt across various district hospitals in Nepal, including Taplejung, Bhojpur, Trishuli, Baitadi, and Doti. The institute has also provided significant support to Patan Hospital, including the construction of the Nick Simons Building, the Medical ICU, and a nursing hostel.

Prof. Dr. Yub Raj Sharma, Medical Director of Patan Hospital, remembers Simons as a dedicated philanthropist who visited Nepal annually and prioritized the needs of the hospital. “He used to come every year and prioritize Patan Hospital. What is necessary every time? He would say what can be done,” said Dr. Sharma.

James Harris Simons’ passing is a great loss to the global philanthropic community and the people of Nepal. His legacy will live on through the Nick Simons Institute, which continues to transform healthcare in rural Nepal, ensuring that Nick’s dream of serving the country is realized.

Ditible Staff

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