Simon Rey is the paternal grandfather of Cécile Rey; she calls him Grand-Père.
Simon Rey is the father of Jean-Claude Rey and the grandfather of Cécile and Armand. The Rey family is well known and well thought of in New Orleans, and it can be rightly assumed that Simon not only has been free his whole life, but that the Rey family has been a free family of color for several generations. Grand-père is a widower as his wife, who worked as a milliner, is not seen or mentioned specifically in Cécile's books.
Simon worked as a sailor when young before settling in New Orleans and traveled around the world. He is a kind man with a talent for storytelling, a talent Cécile shares. He is firmly against slavery and states many times that, no matter how much money he has, he would never own another person.
In the Books
Grand-père is first seen as the family is taking down their Christmas tree; he is reading the Picayune and states that their last name, Rey, means "king" in French. He also asks Cécile about what else she loves about Christmas and New Years, to which she states that she loves the Christmas midnight mass at the cathedral, and reminds her that her brother Armand will return by August from his studies in France.
Grand-père tells Cécile stories about sailing, which makes Cécile long for adventures of her own. He sneaks Cécile out of the house to get her favorite sweet, pralines, from Madame Zulime's store while her mother is gone for the afternoon. He greets Madame Zulime politely and asks for two bags of pralines, to which she smiles and suggests he may get bonbons as well.
As they are at the store, two hostile white American men arrive; when one calls Simon "boy" disparagingly he does not react, nor does he when the other man says that the French don't teach their slaves enough respect, He steps forward to take his package, angering one of the white men by daring to be served first. Simon remains controlled in his actions while Cecile is visibly upset and outbursts at the men that she and Simon are free people of color in French, and--when the men are shocked that she speaks French--follows up confirming what she has said in English, that the Rey family is well known and respected in the city, and that the men should be careful whom they insult in the city before taking the package and saying to Cécile that they can eat a praline on the way home, all without looking at the two Americans as if he does not see them at all.
After they leave, Simon explains to the upset Cécile that as more American whites have been arriving in New Orleans, many do respect the unique Spanish/French/African blended culture of the city; several white Americans think that there are too many people of color in New Orleans and they don't like that so many free people of color exist and openly own their own businesses, and are involved in city and culture equally with whites.
- Meet Cécile, pg. 25: Cécile's heart began beating very fast. Surely that man didn't think her grandfather, Simon Adolphe Rey [...]
- Troubles for Cécile, pg. 55: "Why, this reminds me of the time my captain put me in charge of his pearl," [Grand-père] said. [...] "A pearl, mon père?" Papa seemed distracted as he tore off the end of a baguette. "Mon père" is French for "my father".
- Technically, the sister of a daughter in law is not a daughter in law to the person being referenced; this is the same with her son René, who would be a relative but not a grand-nephew as he is not directly related to Simon.
- American Girl Moves Past Slavery, Introduces New African-American Doll; huffingtonpost.com, referenced September 8, 2011. Denise Lewis Patrick: "I even created a family tree for the Rey family, with details such as what Papa's mother did (she made hats)..."