Charles Earl Simons, Jr. was born in Johnston, South Carolina to Charles Earl Simons, Sr. and Frances Rhoden Simons. He attended the University of South Carolina and received an A.B. degree in history in 1937. He went on to attend the USC School of Law and received an LL.B. in 1939. After receiving his law degree, Charles entered into private practice in Aiken. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy.
Charles Simons was a member of the South Carolina Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the Committee on Federal Judiciary. His public service career included service in the South Carolina General Assembly in 1942, 1947–1948 and 1960–1964. From 1964–1999 he was appointed as U.S. District Judge, District of S.C., and served as Chief Justice from 1980–1986. Charles received the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award from USC. He was a member of the USC President’s Council, the Aiken Rotary and Lion’s Clubs, the Aiken Businessmen’s Club, Ridge Fishing Club, and Palmetto Golf Club. He attended First Baptist Church, where he served for a time as Deacon.
Charles Simons married Jean Brewster Knapp and had four children: Charles E. Simons III, Dr. Paul Simons, Richard Simons, and Jean Simons Smith, and five surviving grandchildren.