Russell Sims, 91, joined family, friends, a plethora of pets and the choir-invisible on November 18th, 2019 after a six year battle with Alzheimer’s that included a 3 year stint as a long-term care patient at NHC in Smithville, Tennessee, where he drew his final breath.
He was born on December 2, 1927 to John and Frances (Combs) Sims in hard-scrabble Laurel County, Kentucky. His childhood endeavors included breaking mules, operating a fruit stand, monitoring the family’s whiskey still and riding horseback with his cousin, “Doc” Cody, who employed him as a carnival barker to facilitate the sale of patent medicine. During his lifetime, Sims’ entrepreneurial spirit would evidence itself in the form of sole proprietorships in many industries: he peddled real estate, built houses, poked cattle, owned auto dealerships, manufactured horse trailers in Mexico and he was one of the first to import 8-track tape players and Kubota tractors from Japan. As a young man, he supplemented his income by moonlighting as a stunt man, an auctioneer and a radio broadcaster.
Sims forged many irons in the fires of the music industry. He owned several music publishing companies and a plant that manufactured vinyl records and 8-track tapes. His record label, Sims Records, was founded in North Hollywood, California in 1953. In 1958, he joined a cast of characters from New York and California recruited to create a hub in Nashville that specialized in country music where he would be named BMI’s “Publisher of the Year” and portray himself in a motion picture entitled “Music City, USA”. Sims was the impetus behind hit records that spanned 5 different musical genres including the gospel classic “Wouldn’t Take Nothin’ For My Journey Now”.
Russell Sims is survived by his wife, Holly Holstead, of Dowelltown, Tennessee; four children: John and Patricia Sims, both of Russellville, Arkansas, Ida (Mark Elliott) of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and Melody (Steve Stanley) of North Little Rock, Arkansas; three grandchildren: Scarlet, Harley and Gunner Sims; one great-grandchild: Gideon Ahlen. He is pre-deceased by a daughter, Laine Sims, and a grandson, Hunter Elliott. He was the “last of the Mohicans” of nine full Sims siblings that included James Henry, Ernest, Mac Pearl, Rance, Hiawatha “Herbert”, Gracie, Mae and Ada.
The life of Russell Sims will be memorialized at a private service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Lighthouse Christian Camp, 205 Serenity Place, Smithville, TN 37166.