When I look at this photo from the rider’s meeting at the 1975 Bahne-Cadillac contest, (Tom is on the far left, second row with the white tee. I’m on the far right, top row) I could have never imagined that we would end up being friends for almost forty years.
I can’t remember when I actually met Tom for the first time. Our paths kept crossing throughout the mid-1970s, but we were never officially introduced. Finally on a trip to LA I decided to stop by unannounced at the Sims office/factory in Santa Barbara. When I walked through the open door there was Tom sitting at his desk, we introduced ourselves to each other, which I always thought was kind of funny, because Tom needed no introduction in those days…every skateboarder knew who Tom Sims was. Much to my surprise and joy, he took me on a tour of the warehouse and office, he also sent me home with a car full of goodies. However, best of all was just sitting with him and talking story.
Over the years whenever Paul Dunn, Gary Fluitt and myself would pass through Santa Barbara we would stop by the Sims office. Tom and his dad, Paul, would always take time out of their day to show us what was coming next from Sims. The day that Tom gave the three of us Sims team shirts, was one of the best days of our lives! We were sponsored by Sims…we smiled all the way home.
Tom was not only a giant in skateboarding, but also snowboarding. He did both with a style and grace, rarely seen then and even rarer today. Tom and I got to know each other better through snowboarding. Even though I was a business competitor of sorts, he was always so excited to show me his latest designs. Tom loved skateboarding and snowboarding with all his heart. Yes he was a determined businessman, but his real pleasure came from making skateboarding and snowboarding a little better for all of us.
I think it was 1981, when Tom, myself and Body Glove decided to split a 10′ x 20′ booth at the SIA Show in Las Vegas. Tom and I built our booth out of PVC pipe and fabric. The whole thing somehow fit into my Ford Escort. We thought we were so hi-tech because we had a VCR and TV in the booth!
We get to Vegas, set up the booth and for three days we put up with all the ski company reps coming by to point, laugh and make smart-ass remarks about our snowboards. Man it was hard to sit there and keep smiling. Tom summed it up well at the end of the show when he said to me…”give ‘em time, someday they might just get it”. Turns out, he was exactly right.
When I look at this photo of Tom and I taken at his house in April of 2012, I could have never imagined that he would be gone five months later. He was still just as excited about snowboarding, and of course he was so happy to see that longboarding was finally getting the respect it deserved. He was in awe of what the young crew of longboarders were doing these days. He was so looking forward to designing and creating decks and wheels once again…same old Tom!
And just like the first day I met him, the best part of that last visit was talking story. Goodbye Tom.
With much respect,
Thank you to Jack Smith, Lucia Griggi, Bud Fawcett and SCS for the images. R.I.P. Tom Sims. – Ozzie