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Share Your Stories of Dean Sims

by Sara Haxby

On Tuesday, January 29, 2019, Dean Paul Sims, husband, retired electronics technician, active volunteer and father of 5 children, passed away at the age of 92.  

Dean was born on November 11, 1926, in Highland Park, MI to Dean and Esther (Richards) Sims. Following graduation from high school, Dean joined the Navy on December 21, 1945. He proudly served in the Asiatic Pacific, the European Occupation following World War II and in the Korean War.  

After his retirement in 1983, Dean began to volunteer with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. He applied to serve on a trail crew when ATC was developing a volunteer trail crew program in the Southern Region. It’s mission: to assist trail maintaining clubs in their effort to tackle major construction and reconstruction projects in the wake of a major federal effort to purchase lands that would allow hundreds of miles of relocations to routes that better fulfilled the desires and expectations of a National Scenic Trail. Over the last 35 years the Konnarock Crew, as it came to be known, and local volunteer clubs moved hundreds of miles of Trail off of paved public road shoulders and unsustainable grades onto routes that have fulfilled the dreams of millions of hikers. Dean volunteered with the Konnarock Trail Crew for over 30 of those years.   

Dean was always a boost to crew morale, keeping spirits high even when the weather or the work was not cooperating. A master storyteller, Dean occupied others’ spirits while toiling together on projects. Dean not only worked on Konnarock crew weeks building relocations, he was essential in working to open the basecamp at the start of crew seasons. Dean skillfully sharpened and rehandled tools before the start of each season, first for Konnarock and then also for Rocky Top Trail Crew.   

Dean left many friends. He will be missed.  

Please share your stories of Dean in the comments section. 








3 comments

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  1. Ross Sherman | Mar 26, 2019

    I met Dean my first year working as a volunteer on the ATC Konnorock Trail crew in 1992. Then in the spring of 1997 I started working with Dean each spring and fall as a Forest Service volunteer on trails. I worked with Dean for many years like Ed Clayton did.  We spent many  nights at the cabin on Pine Mountain and worked all over the Mount Rogers area.  So many memories and stories that I could tell but will share only one.

    I remember having to test our stock pile of radio batteries daily.  Dean had a meter to test with.  I don't know nor understand much about electricity. The numbers and scales on that meter made no sense to me. Dean would get so impatient with me. He went to Radio Shack and purchased a simple battery tester that showed green for good and red for bad.  Dean told me "Even a dummy can do this". What was most surprising to me was that he world buy it for me, everyone knew how stingy he was with money. And by the way I still have and use that battery tester here at home today.

  2. Ross Sherman | Mar 14, 2019

    I met Dean my first year as a volunteer on the Konnarock Trail Crew in 1992.  Most of the trail community knew me as "MISSISSIPPI".  In 1997 I joined Dean as a Forest Service volunteer each spring and fall.  I worked with Dean for many years like Ed Clayton did. We spent many nights at the cabin on Pine Mountain and worked all over the Mount Rogers area.  So many memories and stories that I could tell but will share only one.

    I remember having to test our stock pile of radio batteries daily.  Dean had a meter to test with.  I don't know and understand much about electricity.  The numbers and scales on the meter made no sense to me.  Dean would get so impatient with me at times.  He went to Radio Shack and purchased a simple battery tester that showed green color for good and red for bad. He told me, "even a dummy can do this". What was most surprising to me was that he would buy this for me, we all know how stingy he was with his money.  And by the way, I still have and use that tester here at home today.  

  3. Ed Clayton | Mar 11, 2019

    I met Dean when I was a Konnarock Crew Member. Dean was in base camp off and on and staying otherwise in the cabin on Pine Mountain. The stories told by Dean and about Dean are amazing. I have collected several stories and will share a couple.

    The "pipe bomb" story was one that Dean enjoyed telling. Dean was on the way from Florida to Mt Rogers in his old station wagon with one door that did not match the paint on the rest of the vehicle (it was less expensive that way). Was that door damaged in the deer story that Tim Eling tells and replaced? At the time, we kept a FS radio on overnight in the cabin. I think that we seriously wanted to be ready in case there was an emergency that would demand action by us. Dean had fabricated a holder for 8 D-cells to provide power for the radio. The holder was made from 2" white PVC pipe with wires sticking out each end. Dean had the battery holder on top of other stuff in the back of the station wagon. He stopped at a shopping center to make a purchase. When he came back to the station wagon, it was surrounded by police. Someone had walked by and seen the "pipe bomb" and called 911. Dean explained that it was just a battery holder and was allowed to continue his trip to Mount Rogers.

    A more serious story was “the wreck." Somewhere on the way Dean was involved in a wreck (we never learned who was at fault). Dean's old station wagon was totaled. He found a motel where he could spend the night, located a used pickup truck which he purchased, and continued the trip, arriving at Mount Rogers a day late. He was probably driving that truck the last time that he came to Mount Rogers. As I recall, the truck had fancy rims but the spare had just a steel rim. Dean rotated all 5 tires and so there were 3 tires on the ground with nice rims and the 4th with just a steel rim.

    I have more! Dean was a unique fellow!

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