Okanagan Science Centre founder Bill Sim, left, shares a laugh with centre program development and delivery director Kevin Aschenmeier. Simm died July 4 at age 94. (Okanagan Science Centre - photo)

Okanagan Science Centre founder fondly remembered

Bill Sim of Vernon died July 4 at age 94

Bill Sim dreamed of science education for all kids. Science accessible to everyone.

Sim, founder of Vernon’s Okanagan Science Centre, died July 4 at age 94.

“Bill Sim had a vision. His vision was other-oriented, to create a better world,” said Jim Swingle, current executive director at the science centre, on the organization’s website. “And he put in the hard work to make his vision a reality. I can’t think of a better definition of greatness.”

Founded 28 years ago by Sim, the science centre was a room in the basement of the old Tolko building on 30th Avenue and had no staff. All the work was completed by volunteers fueled with the love of science, like Sim. Bill and those other dedicated volunteers, including his wife Marg, worked hard and together they grew that vision.

Not long after, the science centre was finally able to hire its first staff member, Kevin Aschenmeier, who has delivered science programming to generations of Okanagan children, and continues to do so to this day. Still, wrote Swingle, Bill, Marg, and volunteers carried on with their work.

A few years later the science centre moved out of the basement and into a whole building of its own – its current building – the former schoolhouse in Polson Park.

Sim’s dream continued to grow.

“From a room in a borrowed basement staffed by volunteers, the Okanagan Science Centre has grown to host more than 25,000 visitors a year with planetarium shows, dinosaurs, and a range of exhibits designed and constructed ourselves, here at the science centre Bill built,” wrote Swingle.

READ MORE: Science centre stories sought

“On any given school day, we’ll have in excess of a hundred school children attending our programs. Each summer, hundreds more children attend our science camps. Tourists and visitors come from around the world to visit a science centre in a relatively small town in the North Okanagan.”

In a letter to the editor in The Morning Star in 2013, Sim and his family threw their support behind a proposed cultural centre, sharing similarities with their vision of the science centre.

“For us, as members of the original founding family, to have a vision like the Okanagan Science Centre realized to such a degree is a very humbling experience. And, we see more for the science centre, much more. We have seen the science centre grow from Science on Wheels, where Starlab, a portable planetarium visited schools all over the province, to a temporary home in the Tolko building then to the heritage building that it occupies today. Like other worthwhile organizations serving and enriching a growing community, the centre also needs room to grow.”

There is no word yet on any date for a service for Sim.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Bollywood Bang fundraiser for CMHA Vernon a success

CMHA received $33,922 from Bollywood event to support crisis line and youth programs

Vernon Lions Club “Ducks for Dogs” fundraiser a success

The event raised over $15,000 for B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs

Vernon woman heads up college foundation board

Gladys Fraser brings wealth of experience to role as chair of Okanagan College Foundation board

Vernon skier receives Cross Country Canada award

Gerry Brenemen received Volunteer of the Year Award for contributions to Sovereign Lake Nordic Club

A rainy July is normal for the Okanagan

Rainy days in July haven’t been seen since before 2014

Kelowna’s Okanagan Regional Library may not look like the one you grew up with!

New technology and arts programming transforms library operations

Canada Forces Snowbirds making quick trip to South Okanagan

Planes will be touching down at the Penticton airport to refuel

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

Stolen car now returned to Summerland dealership

Vehicle was stolen on same day as attempted carjacking incident

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Rock the Lake music festival in Okanagan nears Saturday night sellout

Aug. 10th show is nearly sold out and three-day weekend passes are almost gone as well

Police recover $12,700 in stolen pet food from North Shuswap property

Chase RCMP execute third search of property where stolen vehicles, illegal firearms seized

Hergott: Medical cannabis and ICBC

ICBC might start reimbursing the expense of cannabis just like they do for prescription medications

Most Read