LAURINE SIMONS didn't just read a newspaper or magazine. If she saw something interesting - and this well-rounded woman didn't have to turn many pages before a gem of information caught her eye - she would clip it out and show it to family and friends.

That was just the way Laurine was, not only finding fascinating accounts of life on the planet to educate herself, but passionate about sharing them with others.

She contributed her knowledge to two self-help books, wrote poetry and encouraged others to read through literacy programs.

Laurine Cotten Simons, a 30-year hospital dietitian, active churchwoman, civic activist with a special concern for the underserved, and a loving family matriarch, died Saturday of cancer. She was 83 and lived in Overbrook.

As a dietitian, Laurine worked for 30 years at three hospitals, including Pennsylvania Hospital, from which she retired in 1986. Her work took in three aspects of her dietetics specialty - therapeutic, clinical and administrative.

Before and after her retirement, she wrote the nutrition sections for two books by Dr. Theodore G. Duncan - The Good Life With Diabetes and Over 55.

"Laurine's life exemplified the rewards of hard work, the importance of education, respect for neighbors, service to the community, and excellence in all she did," her family wrote in a tribute.

Laurine was born in Enfield, N.C., the seventh child and second daughter of James and Bertha Cotten. She got her early education there, then went on to North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C., where she received a bachelor of science degree in home economics in 1955.

Her outstanding academic work at the university earned her a notice in the 1954-55 edition of Who's Who Among Students. She served as an usher at vesper services and joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Laurine married the late Samuel Kirkland Simons on Sept. 11, 1955.

In 1956, Laurine did a 12-month dietetic internship at Freedmen's Hospital, now Howard University Hospital, in Washington, D.C., specializing in nutrition and becoming a registered dietitian.

Laurine was one of the founders of the Haddington Lane Association, a Philadelphia civic group, serving as secretary, treasurer and president.

She worked as a volunteer with the Philadelphia Neighborhood Housing Services, which provides housing for the needy.

She also volunteered as a literacy coach at the Philadelphia Free Library, often teaching English as a second language. She was given an appreciation certificate by the Mayor's Commission on Literacy in 1986.

Laurine also was active with the Philadelphia chapter of the North Carolina A&T State University Alumni, serving as president, vice president, custodian and chairwoman of the annual fund.

As a member of Vine Memorial Baptist Church, Laurine was active with the Missionary Society, Deaconess Ministry, and was a 25-year Sunday school teacher. She also manned the literature table in the church vestibule, taught in the church discipleship academy and founded the Shut-In Companion Ministry.

The church named her Mother of the Year in 2001.

Laurine was skilled at various crafts, including floral arranging and picture framing. One of her poems, "God's Power and Plan," was published by the National Literary Library of Poetry.

She enjoyed bus trips, browsing flea markets and attending homecoming events of her alma mater. She looked forward to her annual New Year's Day brunch to which family and friends flocked for food, fun, fellowship and gifts.

Laurine is survived by a son, Kirkland Simons Sr.; two brothers, Manuel and Hosea Cotten; three grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Services: 11 a.m. Monday at Vine Memorial Baptist Church, 5600 W. Girard Ave. Friends may call at 10 a.m. Burial will be at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd.