More than 300 friends and family members gathered Saturday evening to attend a memorial service and eulogy for Roy Simms at Harper-McNeeley Auditorium.
Simms, a well-loved local coach, youth mentor and sports legend, died Nov. 17 during a Davis & Elkins College basketball team practice. Simms had served as the Elkins High School basketball coach and was an assistant coach for the D&E mens' team at the time of his death.
Simms' brother, Richard, spoke during Saturday's memorial.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Anthony Gaynor
Family members of the late Roy Simms were presented signed basketballs by the Davis & Elkins College men’s basketball team during a memorial on Saturday. From left, Simms’ brother, Roger Simms; Simms’ wife, Diann ‘Dee’ Simms; his sister, Shirley Yates; and brothers Ronald Simms, Richard Simms and Robert Simms all took part in Saturday’s memorial. Roy Simms served as an assistant coach for the Senators.
"Mother gave birth to Roy when she was 45," Richard Simms said. "He was fragile and everyone helped nurse our sickly brother."
Richard said the family was overwhelmed with grief at the untimely death of his brother.
"It just seems out of order," Richard Simms said. "But God keeps a different time than us, and God said it was time for Roy - it was his time to come home.
"Growing up, the high point of my day was to tell him I loved him and give him a kiss," Richard Simms said. "He would wrap his arms around me and say, 'I love you, too.'"
Richard Simms said his brother loved Elkins.
"He loved being in Elkins and he loved playing for the (Elkins High School) Tigers," Richard Simms said. "He was where he wanted to be and was where he thought God wanted him to be."
Richard Simms said he was proud of his baby brother for starting the Give Back Foundation.
"He knew what dad had taught him," he said. "Dad always said you just can't take, but you need to give back as well."
Roy Simms started the foundation to help athletes attend sports camps and training. It was stationed out of the Elkins YMCA.
"Roy's faith sustained him and his faith never withered," Richard Simms said. "He used to say he was just thankful God let him see another day. Roy's response to the question of how are you was always to answer, I am blessed."
Voras Haynes Jr, an Elkins resident and childhood friend to Roy Simms, said he felt fortunate to be close to him for more than 40 years.
"Kids of all ages were drawn to Roy," Haynes said. "He would always find something positive to discuss with them."
Haynes said his friend had a quick smile and an easy laugh.
"Anyone who met him could tell he was blessed," Haynes said. "He was a great athlete and was driven - he wanted to be the best and the fastest."
Haynes said Roy Simms' many friends were all blessed to have him in their lives.
Steve Wamsley, the principal of Tygarts Valley High School, expressed his love for his longtime friend.
"I had lunch with him on his birthday," Wamsley said. "We always hugged and said I love you."
Wamsley said Simms would come and talk to the students at Tygarts Valley and bring other positive role models for the students to meet.
"The kids at Tygarts Valley High School were drawn to Roy," Wamsley said. "The title 'Coach Simms' was the best title he ever had. We were blessed to know Roy Simms."
Classmate and fellow athlete Dan Armentrout shared his feelings about his longtime friend.
"He had a tremendous ability to love," Armentrout said. "(His wife) D was the greatest thing that happened in Roy's life.
"Roy would want us to put to use the things we saw him doing," Armentrout said. "We need to carry on his legacy with the Give Back Foundation. We need to show kids what Roy Simms was about.
"Don't be sad," Armentrout said. "Rejoice that he is home. He is in a great place that he earned. We need to remember his legacy."
Elkins resident Mary Ann Deluca, another longtime friend, talked about Roy Simms' illness. Simms had been in need of both a kidney and heart transplant.
"He told me things with his transplant were moving quickly," Deluca said. "He said he thought he would have a year with the D&E boys before his transplant.
"Roy was happy he was home in Elkins with a wife he loved," Deluca said. "He was proud to be asked to work with the D&E team and was happy his talents were seen and respected. Roy's dreams were fulfilled."
Members of the D&E team presented Roy's wife, Diann, his brothers and his sister with basketballs signed by all the members.
The Rev. Marvin Parli, minister of Elkins First Baptist Church, reminded all in attendance that grief is a part of love.
"We grieve with hope," Parli said. "Healing will begin because of the confidence and hope we have in Christ."
During the service, Tim White, Chris Woodrum and Tonya Auvil performed "Hallelujah" and "Amazing Grace."
Immediately following the service, friends and family gathered at Halliehurst Mansion to share fond memories and celebrate Roy Simms' life.