PHOENIXVILLE >> Dale Sims and his wife, Barbara, met by accident.
This was 37 years ago. The two knew each other from high school but on this fateful day they both showed up at a vehicle accident: he as an emergency medical technician (EMT) with West End Fire Co. No. 3 ambulance of Phoenixville; she as a junior firefighter with Valley Forge Fire Co.
“We were just cleaning up the accident scene,” recalls Barbara, “when he approached me, gave me his phone number and suggested I call him the next day.” The rest, as they say, was history.
Fast forward to 2012. The 32 years of marriage had been happy ones for the Sims, their two sons and daughter, but then came the bad news. Dale was diagnosed with brain cancer. Before his condition worsened, Dale, whose full name is Oliver Dale Sims, worked as a self-employed electrician and handyman. But in July of this year, Dale became bed-ridden, aware of his surroundings but unable to speak. One of the bright spots in his day is a visit by his daughter, Angela, 25, and her 2-year-old son, Louis.
On Tuesday, Dec. 16, O’Grady’s Family Restaurant at 273 Schuylkill Road in Phoenixville will host an all-day benefit to raise funds for the Sims family’s medical expenses. From 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., a percentage of each patron’s bill will be donated to the family. In addition, local businesses have donated gift baskets to be raffled off. The manager of O’Grady’s, Jill Vontor, has known the Sims family for over 30 years.
“We got to know each other through our kids,” she recalled. Her daughter, Meghan, and Sims’s son, Bryan, were in daycare together. “They were both super-hyperactive and kept the daycare workers on their toes. Barbara and I got to know each other well because we were always visiting the principals and the teachers.”
“I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl,” Sims’s daughter, Angela, admitted. “If I had a problem, I would always run to him. He would calm me down and give me advice. The other day I had a flat tire. I quickly pulled out my cell phone to call him but then I realized that, since he was unable to speak, he wouldn’t be able to help me.”
Kathy Szabara has known Dale for seven years; both are members of the Black Rock Volunteer Fire Co.
“I grew up in the fire company but my husband, Jake, didn’t. Nevertheless, Dale made him feel wanted, made him feel like he, too, was a member of the fire company,” she said. “Dale is also a mentor and role model. When my youngest son, A.J., was 17, he was often in and out of trouble. The two of them would talk. Dale would listen and give advice, but he never judged him.”
Contributions may also be made to Team Oliver Dale Sims donation account, c/o Wells Fargo bank, Acct. #8211223329.