In loving memory of Kent Reader Simms: 1936-2024


Kent Reader Simms, age 87, passed away at home in Chehalis, Washington, on June 8, 2024, his and Nancy’s 61st wedding anniversary. He was born Aug. 23, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois, to the Rev. Rex Clift Simms and Kathleen Wilson Simms. Kent is survived by his wife, Nancy Ann Reiter Simms, and children, Katie (and Philip) Strong of East Lansing, Michigan, and Steve Simms, of Chehalis, Washington. He is preceded in death by his parents, Rex and Kathleen, and his brother, Rex Bartlett Simms, of Atlanta, Georgia.

Kent lived in many states while his father followed his calling as a priest. After his early years in Illinois, the family moved to Dixon, Wyoming, then to Buffalo, Wyoming, for much of his grade school years and then relocated to Texas where he studied at Graham High School and then graduated from Levelland High School. He attended Texas Tech College (now university) and earned his bachelor of science degree in geological sciences. From 1959 through 1961, Kent served active duty in the U.S. Army, where he was stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, for the Corps of Engineers military intelligence division of the Beach Erosion Board and later at Fort Lawton, Washington, completing his reserve service in 1965.

Meanwhile, in 1959, his parents relocated from Texas to Montesano, Washington, where his father served as clergy for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. It was at St. Mark’s where Kent and Nancy met having been introduced by Nancy’s sister. After his discharge from the Army, Kent returned to school to complete his teaching certificate at the University of Washington. Kent taught earth and physical science at Kalles Junior High School in the Puyallup School District for 33 years.

Upon his retirement, Kent and Nancy relocated to Chehalis in Lewis County. Kent was an avid angler, with favorite steelhead fishing holes on the Cowlitz River. Kent also enjoyed vegetable gardening and yard work, including keeping a meticulously manicured lawn with his prized California trimmer. This positioned him well for becoming the groundskeeper for 22 years at St. Timothy Episcopal Church. Kent loved vintage ’50s era GMC pickups and the hunt for all things tools and license plates at garage sales and swap meets. He had an eclectic ear for music, enjoying most any live music and listening to his album collection of jazz, country, bluegrass and anything Texas. A favorite live music experience was seeing Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in Washington, D.C., during his service years. He enjoyed family vacations to national parks, Yellowstone in particular, examining the landscape and rock formations. Kent used his gift of attention to detail to delve into genealogy to research his family tree. Through the years, his interests and skills in ancestry heightened, and he was sought out to help others locate histories and burial sites. His interest in ancestry took him and Nancy to Newfoundland, Canada, where he connected with others from the Simms clan. 

A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 29, at 11 a.m. at St. Timothy Episcopal Church in Chehalis. A private graveside service will be held at a future date at Claquato Cemetery. In lieu of flowers or other gifts, please pour yourself a cup of coffee or a large glass of iced tea, put on your favorite CD, and drink it all in.