In 2002, Harriet Simons was asked by the director of planned giving for the Chautauqua Foundation why she decided to include Chautauqua in her will. It took Simons almost a year to encapsulate in words all that the Institution means to her.
“The reason it has taken me so long to respond is that it is difficult to sort out all the benefits that Chautauqua has given me!” Simons wrote in a letter.
Simons wanted her bequest to go toward finding outstanding speakers for the lecture platform, which she believed to be the most unique aspect of Institution programming.
Eventually, Simons began to compile her memories and pen the stories of her Chautauqua experience. The result was page after page of anecdotes, each more personal and heartfelt than the next.
Simons met Chautauqua in 1962, just after she was hired as a voice instructor and choral conductor at the State University of New York at Fredonia. It was the day of the final Sunday service of the season, and since most choir members had already departed the grounds, a quartet was asked to provide the music that morning. Simons was invited to be the alto, and experienced the Sunday service for the first time.