Tom Sims – In Memoriam

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.

Tom Sims – Image: Bud Fawcett

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!

Tom Sims and Jack Smith

And just like the first day I met him, the best part of that last visit was talking story. Goodbye Tom.

With much respect,

Jack Smith

Thank you to Jack Smith, Lucia Griggi, Bud Fawcett and SCS for the images. R.I.P. Tom Sims. – Ozzie


10 thoughts on “Tom Sims – In Memoriam

  1. I remember riding the Sims BLADE way back in the day. Tom was a ripper, may he have a happy transition to whatever lay beyond.

  2. I met Tom back around 81′-82′ in the early years of snowboarding. Joel Gomez, Ross and I used to go up to Chantry’s house to stay and we’d see Tom there. He was a nice guy and a huge influence on skating and snowboarding. I even rode a huge taperkick at my first backyard pool ever. Brad Bowman and Doug Demontmorency were friends of mine and some of his team stars and a couple of my favorite all-time skaters . . Tom knew talent. Tom touched mine and many lives in multiple ways . . a massive, positive force that helped mold the world we call “ours” into what it is today. RIP Tom , our loss is huge.

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  5. Like all of you I was floored when I got home from work and found Tom had died. I never rode his skateboards but in the 80’s there was Sims snowboards and then everyone else way behind. In 87 I bought a Sims 1710 Blade and used to ride Mount Ashland in Oregon every weekend. We were so new to the slopes then the skiers didn’t know what to think when I went by at warp 9. That board was like riding a living thing. Everyone else’s boards back then felt like like you were riding a plank of wood but Tom was in his own universe. Thank you Tom for the amazing things you did! My heart goes out to your family, your stoke on riding in any form will missed brother!

  6. I never knew Tom Sims nor did I like his style of skateboarding ( and I still don’t) but may he rest in peace.

  7. I am sitting at my desk and my heart just dropped to the floor. I am so blown away right now….I am a really lucky guy because of Tom Sims. Henry Hester and I were up at Snow Summit one Sunday snowboarding on a beautiful day, sitting at the tables eating lunch and up walks Craig Kelly and Tom Sims. Henry introduces me to them and Tom says..” Henry why don’t you and Gunnar join us for some hard charging down the mountain.” I grabbed my board and stepped in my bindings and my life changed forever. I can’t even explain how powerful it was to sit back and follow Tom and Craig, run after run down that mountain. Here you have fearless Tom just floating over everything in his path with incredible speed and my hero Craig Kelly just ripping effortlessly with such mind blowing style. I was never the same. Two of the most gracious men to me in my favorite sports are gone. This is truly a sad day for me. Thank you Tom for reaching out to me in your unspoken way on the snow and teaching me how to live again. RIP

  8. Beautiful memories today of Tom Sims from everyone in the skateboard industry and beyond. I feel lucky to have been part of SIMS and have had Tom on my side. RIP. Great post Ozzie, and thanks to jack for sharing. xo

    • I too like all the others are in shock about Tom’s Passing. I first met Tom bac in the 70’s shortly after the introduction of “Pure Juice Bowl riders” My husband knew the Man who was manufacturing, these wheels in his factory for Tom, little did he or I know he was selling weels out the back door to me as he was selling them out the front to Tom, One day I got a phone call from Tom, well the doors were open and that was the beginning of Donel Distributors. Tom spent many a day in Tx. with us, sponsering my Son Stuart Singer on his team and joining us in promotion of Skateboarding in Texas. A true gentleman, business man, athlete, and innovator,that I was proud to know, one of the greats, if not the greatest. Live it up “when you least expect it, Your elected.

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