E.J. and Frances Sims celebrate 75th anniversary
MADISON – A bag of popcorn started it all for E.J. and Frances Sims. They celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary on Dec. 28.
Family and friends gathered at The Madison Village for the Sims’ celebration.
During the Great Depression, E.J. sold popcorn for one penny per bag at the movie theatre in Camden, Tenn. “Mom bought lots of popcorn until she caught my Dad’s attention,” son John Sims said.
“Both were too shy to ask for a date. Finally, a mutual friend set up a double date one weekend,” John said.
Three weeks after Pearl Harbor (Dec. 28, 1941), E.J. and Frances drove about 120 miles to Cape Girardeau, Mo. to get married. “There was a three-day waiting period in Tennessee,” Frances said. “We woke a Justice of the Peace up around 1 a.m. We returned immediately after the marriage so I could be in school the next morning.”
Frances always worked as a full-time housewife. E.J. was a Navy aircraft mechanic during World War II. After the war, he returned to his pre-war job at Milan Army Ammunition Plant.
In 1951, E.J. was invited to Huntsville to interview for a job with the new rocket project. He met Werner Von Braun and was offered a job. That same week, TVA offered him a job, which he accepted because he thought TVA would be more stable.
“Dad still laughs at the fact he thought the rocket program wouldn’t be around long,” John said.
E.J. worked with TVA for his entire career. The Sims lived in Florence; Benton, Ky.; Fort Loudon and Lebanon,Tenn.; and eventually Camden, Tenn. with New Johnsonville TVA Steam Plant.
“We were very young. Both of us had grown up during the Great Depression. I don’t ever remember thinking our marriage wouldn’t work,” Frances said.
“We never went in debt for anything, except a car and house. Never paid interest on a credit card. Lived within our means and tried to never go to bed mad with each other,” Frances said.
Frances was pianist for their church 30-plus years. “She was very active in DAR and unofficial caregiver for friends and family when anyone became ill. She was always available to cook meals and care for people,” John said.
E.J. avidly researched and collected Indian artifacts. Professors from University of Tennessee, University of Memphis and others often visited E.J. for help in researching archeology projects related to prehistoric Indians in the Tennessee River region. Eventually, E.J. became president of Tennessee Archeology Society.
Currently, his vast collection is on loan at UT’s McClung Museum.
The Sims’ interest in family genealogy led them across much of the Southeast and Midwest, researching court records for old deeds, marriages, deaths and census records. E.J. wrote a book on the Sims family dating back to the 1600s; it’s now in Library of Congress.
John Sims and wife Sandra live in Madison. Their son Fred of Milton, Tenn. passed away in November from cancer; Fred’s wife is Leigh.
E.J. and Frances have three granddaughters, two grandsons (one deceased), two step-grandsons and 15 great-grandchildren.