Warner Robins former Councilman Simms remembered

chwright@macon.comSeptember 28, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Former Warner Robins Councilman Tom Simms sat in a booth with his pastor at a Denny’s in Byron almost two years ago. He ordered salvation, according to the Rev. Jerry Walls.

“You don’t have to be in a church for this,” said Walls, who baptized Simms. “That day, in a Denny’s, in the back booth, Tom prayed. And he asked Jesus Christ to be his savior.”

At a brief service Friday at McCullough Funeral Home, Walls talked about Simms: the Christian man who liked to ride motorcycles, fly planes and care for veterans and children.

Simms, 56, died Tuesday of unknown causes. Toxicology results are expected in about three months. Simms’ term as councilman ended in December.

“He suffered with back pain and had very little feeling in his legs,” Walls said at the service. “I’m here to tell you, today he’s running up and down those pearly streets, kicking up gold dust.”

After the service, a procession of more than a dozen motorcyclists, six police cruisers, a fire truck and more than two dozen vehicles made the journey to Parkway Memorial Gardens on Carl Vinson Parkway. In just five minutes, Watson Boulevard traffic backed up as far as Peacock Street.

At 3:40 p.m. in Warner Robins, many of those waiting in their cars were coming from where Simms had on workdays: Robins Air Force Base. Simms worked as an aircraft mechanic with the C-130 Group. He was a flight engineer for more than 20 years before working at the base.

“Every time I talked to Tom, he would talk about how important it was to support our war fighters,” Walls recalled.

Besides supporting veterans, Simms was also a known supporter of the Warner Robins Little League and a member of the International City Civitan club.

“He was so devoted,” said Marilyn Reeves, a family friend from Indiana who was unable to attend the service. “When he believed in something, he was just unstoppable. He would do anything for anybody that he could.”

Reeves said Simms maintained a private pilot license.

“He loved to fly,” she said. “It was one of his passions.”

Another passion was his Harley-Davidson, Reeves said. A Harley jacket and helmet stood beside his casket at Friday’s service. A flag and skull cap, from the POW-MIA Riders, were laid next to the guestbook.

Simms had two sisters and was married to Lisa Simms for more than 30 years.

“The look of love in his eyes when he looked at his wife,” is the image Reeves said she’ll hold on to of her friend of 26 years.

Simms moved from Mobile, Ala. as a child. He graduated from Northside High School in 1974. Over the years, he visited other places, but Warner Robins was home.

“Now, Tom has moved from Warner Robins to heaven,” Walls said.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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