B Sims had friends from all walks of life and he loved nothing more than getting all of them together at U Know Where for fellowship and fun, retired minister Earle Haire said during a service for the former grocer on Thursday.
Benjamin Franklin Lyle Sims, known by everyone as B, died Sunday at Elizabeth House at age 92.
Mourners filled the downstairs sanctuary at First United Methodist Church to remember the man who was devoted to Hendersonville High School for three quarters of a century, loved family and community and served his church and the Lord.
"B loved this church," said the Rev. Haire, who served as senior pastor before his retirement and was a friend of B. "B's mother back in the '20s was one of the first to recognize the importance of a children's department. This church was a part of his life from the day he was born."
Haire recalled a visit from Sims when the new minister had just arrived in town, in 1984.
"He came by my office and met me and said to me, You know, I have a little get-together for breakfast on the Fourth of July," Haire said. "We start about 7 o'clock and go till about 11. And I said, How do you get there? And he said, go down Highway 64 East and there's a store there called Uno, and you turn there till you see a sign that says U Know Where and under that it says Sims."
Haire and his wife, Pat, drove out to U Know Where and found a big crowd already scattered around the yard.
"We got there about 9 o'clock and there must have been 50 cars there and people everywhere," he said. "It looked like a county fair."
B and his wife, Bettie, added a Christmas party, which similarly drew a crowd "jammed shoulder to shoulder" in the Fruitland Road house. One year, the Haires skipped the party and Sims said, "I didn't see you at the party." Haire said he hadn't gotten an invitation. "He said when you're once invited you're always invited."
Then the Simses added an early summer party, and again a big crowd came.
"There were neighbors, there were farmers and people that worked in agriculture all over the county, there were a lot of teachers and a few scattered preachers, there were doctors, Dr. Lampley was always there, there were several politicians," he said. "There were people from every walk of life.
"I told him, you know, you call this place 'U Know Where.' I think you ought to call it You Never Know because you never know who you might see," the minister said. "I never saw a grumpy person at one of those parties."
The parties went on, even as Sims grew older.
"I asked him how long can you keep this up," Haire said. "He said, well, you never know. But I tell you something, Earle. This is what it's all about — having my friends here, everybody having a good time, this is what it's all about."
What it was all about for B Sims, the minister said, was putting others first.
"B never talked about himself and he never would have told you he was a religious man," Haire said. But he lived his faith and made the world better place for it. "B Sims never talked about it but B Sims walked the walk, and that made all the difference."
The Rev. Dan Martin, the current senior pastor, said Sims epitomized the Christian life in writing off groceries for those who could not pay, mowing grass for those who could not pay and all the while wearing a smile.
"He depended on his family, he depended on the Lord and he found hope in each one of us," Martin said.
Sims is survived by his second wife, Teal Wilkins Sims. His first wife, Bettie Fay Powers Sims to whom he was married for 56 years, preceded him in death.
Family members from the Sims, Powers and Wilkins families filled nine pews in the sanctuary, and members of the Roy Johnson Sunday School class were seated in the front left.
An all-conference guard on HHS teams of the late 1930s and lifelong fan of Bearcat athletics, Sims was a founder of the Catbackers booster club and the HHS Hall of Fame. Among the mourners were members of the extended family of Hendersonville High School, including current and past coaches and teachers.