Heidi Ellen De Simone
February 11, 1947 – March 12, 2018
Heidi Ellen De Simone (nee Haydée Elena Páez), a nearly 42-year resident of The Woodlands who made her mark in the business of cosmetics, died March 12 at Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital after a lengthy battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She was 71. “She was loving, spiritual and open-minded which made it easy for her to befriend people of all backgrounds,” said her daughter, Jennifer DeSimone Manning of The Woodlands. “My Tía relished the supportive, matriarchal role as a grandmother, great aunt, and mother to her extended family,” added her nephew, Alan G. Paez of Alexandria, VA. Born in Argentina, she was an active member in groups like International Friends and Casa Argentina de Houston, which brought together people of various nationalities and cultures. She was fluent in English, Spanish and Italian. An ardent feminist, she had an unshakeable faith in her abilities and optimism for business success at a time when women were beginning to gain acceptance as executives.
Heidi arrived in the United States with her family in November 1957 at the age of 10, living in New York City and then Connecticut where her parents were live-in servants for a wealthy family. After high school she became a U.S. citizen and enrolled at Queens College in New York, then soon began work in fashion and cosmetics sales. She married Nicodemo De Simone, a building designer and immigrant from Argentina, in December 1970. They moved to Huntington, Long Island where their daughter Jennifer was born in 1972. In 1976 they relocated to The Woodlands, and her parents soon followed, creating a home in the then-fledgling community where their son Nicholas was born in 1985.
Heidi began working at Houston-based Foley’s (now Macy’s) in cosmetics in 1976. Like her father, she easily made connections with people, and combined that ability with management skills from courses at the University of Houston. This combination helped her succeed as an account executive, senior manager, and regional sales manager with major cosmetics brands Revlon, Chanel, Givenchy, Sanofi and Princess Marcella Borghese. As testament to her business acumen, she started her career in Houston at a single store and eventually was responsible for over 100 stores in several states.
Heidi was forced to retire 18 years ago because of health issues. But she took in stride the health setbacks in her life. As a young adult, Heidi lost the use of one lung when it collapsed and battled COPD in her remaining lung throughout her life. Later she developed Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and received chemotherapy which helped prolong her life. In the final difficult years, she expressed gratitude to Dr. Brent Steck, Dr. Dennis Coburn, Alba Mijongos and Genesis Salazar for their kind care and understanding.
Heidi was born February 11, 1947, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the second of two children to Juan Carlos Paez and Maria Elena (Madeo) Paez. Her life-long love of dancing began as a young girl in Buenos Aires. “I saw her grow up, attend grammar school, take ballet lessons, and perform in musicals,” said her brother, Carlos A. Paez of Dana Point, CA. She was a supporter of the Houston Ballet and New York City Ballet, and she volunteered in various community groups in The Woodlands over the years. She recently celebrated her 47th wedding anniversary. She is survived by her husband Nico, daughter Jennifer (Chad), son Nicholas, grandsons Connor and Cooper, her brother Carlos (Elizabeth), nephew Alan (Laura), four nieces, 10 grandnieces and grandnephews, and relatives in Argentina, Spain and Italy. A celebration of Heidi’s life is set for 3:00PM on April 7. 2018, at Unity Circle of Light Church, 25817 Gosling Rd., Spring, TX 77389. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Lung Association (www.lung.org).