An alumnus of both San Angelo College and Texas Tech University, Bill Sims lived his philosophy, “Listen to all sides, then do what’s right.” His sense of humor and unpretentious honesty won him many friends and supporters throughout his 30-year career with the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association and led to his election in 1982 to the Texas Senate as a democrat.
Sims’ wife, Sue, said she and Ta Cargile were just starting a new business, The Pantree, when Bill told her he felt a need to serve and was running for election.
“He said, ‘Don’t worry. I won’t win,’” Sue said.
Bill ended up serving under four governors while representing a geographically large, diverse, 57.5-county district. He served as chair of several powerful Senate committees, yet was known for fairness and being open to addressing the needs of all Texas citizens.
From his youth, Bill overcame physical challenges that seemed impossible. He started college at TTU in 1949, but contracted polio and had to step away from school for a time. He worked to regain his health and then attended ASU in 1953, later returning to TTU to finish his degree.
Listen to all sides, then do what’s right.
In 1995, Bill suffered a major stroke, but again battled back to continue his work until 1997. He developed sepsis in 2012.
“Most people don’t come back from that,” Sue said. “But Bill’s doctor said, ‘People don’t know Bill Sims.’
Through all of these setbacks, he never once complained.”
The Sims’ courtship was indicative of how their 61-year marriage would play out. Bill and another couple arrived to pick Sue (Lowe) up for a double date - Bill and Sue’s first. When Sue stepped out of her house, she noticed Bill was wearing a fake nose and glasses. The next surprise was that after he took them off, she found quite an attractive young man. She was hooked at that point.
“It sure wasn’t boring,” she said.
Sue still has the bracelet Bill was given when he was voted Homecoming Beau at SAC. He was also voted Most Outstanding Sophomore and president of the Concho Aggies. He was elected president of his dorm at Texas Tech, but arrived on campus to realize he forgot to reserve his dorm room.
Sue laughs lightheartedly as she talks of her husband, but her deep love and respect for him are evident.
“He could say just about anything to anyone,” she said. “His mother was just like that. He said what was on his mind, but people loved him.”
Bill’s constituents and fellow lawmakers felt the same respect toward him. According to Sue, republicans tried to persuade him to switch parties. Fellow State Sen. John Montford of Lubbock said to Sims, “I think you are a bedrock West Texan. I think (you) typify the commitment to represent a district, and at times it’s tough, at times that has to come before party line votes. I want you to know I respect you very much.”
Sue had to share Bill with much of the world over their lives together, and when Bill passed away in 2016, the news was widely and intensely absorbed. In an article for Ranch and Rural Living, Bill’s former coworker and friend, Sandy Whittley, wrote, “The world lost one of its favorite sons on Aug. 29. Bill Sims died peacefully in his sleep, and we all mourned.”
Through trials and tribulations, Bill Sims persevered and fought for the people he represented. He will be long remembered for being a true West Texan and servant leader.