Bill Simms’ dream and vision has been enjoyed by thousands.
The Vernon man, in 1969, bought options on 102 acres of land from the O’Keefe family, put together some investors and, along with a few others, designed his dream that would become the Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club.
Simms, the youngest and last surviving of four siblings, all born and raised in Vernon, died March 20 at age 94.
“I think he played every day it seemed, for as long as he was able,” wrote Keith Rydings, who shared a birthday with Simms. “It’s a real loss to Vernon and the Spall golf course.”
Construction on the course soon started after Simms’ purchase and by the spring of 1973 the course was being played on the full 18 holes. In the fall of 1983, the board of directors decided an update was needed and renovation started on what would become, in 1987, the first 27-hole golf facility in the Interior, which remains in play today.
Simms personally planted most of the trees at the course, officially retiring when the course was sold in 2007.
“Dad was an avid golfer and continued to play well into his late 80s,” said his four children, David, Carolyn, Jim and Kenny, in Simms’ obituary. “He loved watching his Canucks and the Blue Jays play and cheering on any team that was playing against the (New York) Yankees.”
Simms grew up during the Depression and became an artillery signaler for the Canadian Armed Forces. He served overseas in Holland for nearly two years during the Second World War.
Upon his return in 1946, Simms began worked at Dolph Brown Ltd., a Vernon packing house, before joining the Ministry of Forests as a “bug chaser.” He worked throughout the Interior for the ministry for 10 years before making a career change to teaching in the mid-1950s.
After taking his first teaching job in Nanaimo, Simms met and married Diane Jacques in 1958. They were married for 62 years up until Simms’ death. Simms spent nearly a quarter-century teaching some math and English, but mostly industrial arts. He retired from teaching in 1980 at W.L. Seaton Junior Secondary.
“Mr. Simms gave me my first appreciation of working with wood and the tools of the trade which I still follow to this day,” wrote Lenny Whatmore. “Sad to hear one of my all-time favourite teachers has passed. Thanks for sharing your inspiration.”
Simms, said his children, will be forever and fondly remembered by the family and his friends as a proud parent/grandparent, sportsman (hockey and golf), brilliant bridge player, gifted storyteller and comic strip aficionado.
Simms is survived by Diane, four children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be held at Spallumcheen Golf Course at a yet to be determined date. In the meantime, friends and former students wanting to share a memory or story with the family can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.