Edward Simonet, a longtime criminal defense lawyer in Stillwater, never took a Saturday off from work.
“He gave clients his home and cellphone number, and he’d be playing golf and talking to somebody who had gotten a DWI and wanted to know what they were supposed to do,” said his wife, Anne Simonet. “There weren’t any real boundaries like some people have.”
Simonet, known as “Eddie,” was born and raised in Stillwater, and began practicing law there in 1974. Attorneys in Washington County knew him for his genuine personality, passion and willingness to help his clients any way he could.
“He was a gentleman and practiced law with great honor,” said Washington County Attorney Pete Orput. “It was easy to lose to someone like him because he was such a pro.”
After emergency surgery over the weekend, Simonet died unexpectedly at the age of 71. His death shocked the law community in Washington County.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Anne Simonet said she wasn’t able to visit her husband while he stayed in the hospital, but she and their sons were able to see him in person to say goodbye before he died.
Since his death on Tuesday, she said, she has received an overwhelming amount of emails from community members who knew her husband and admired him.
“The outpouring of messages other lawyers are sending to me is just unbelievable,” she said.
Assistant Washington County Attorney Marc Berris met Simonet when he made his very first court appearance as an attorney in the mid-1990s.
“This guy who I’d never met before came over and stuck out his hand and introduced himself and coached me through it,” Berris said.
Simonet attended the University of Minnesota — Duluth for his undergraduate degree, and attended law school at the University of South Dakota.
In addition to his successful criminal defense practice, he also worked as the examiner of titles for Washington County and as a public defender. He was also involved with the Washington County Veterans Court. His father, also named Edward, was an attorney in Stillwater as well.
“He remembered everybody’s name of everyone he ever met,” Anne Simonet said. “He loved people was very kind to everyone.”
In addition to his wife, Simonet is survived by two children, five sisters, a brother and two grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at a later date once COVID-19 restrictions have eased.
“He gave so much to the community in so many ways, and I think that’s a standout for him,” Orput said. “Ed Simonet lived a life that mattered, and he’ll be sorely missed.”