June 18, 2002 - Greenwich Time: Albert G. Sims was first executive director of university relations at the Peace Corps

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Albert G. Sims was first executive director of university relations at the Peace Corps

Read and comment on this obituary from Greenwich Time on Albert G. Sims, the first executive director of university relations at the Peace Corps at:

Albert G. Sims, 84; dedicated his life to public service*

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Albert G. Sims, 84; dedicated his life to public service

By Hoa Nguyen Staff Writer

June 18, 2002

Albert G. Sims, 84, a longtime Riverside resident who helped launch the Peace Corps, worked for the State Department, was a retired College Board executive and served on the Greenwich Board of Education, died Friday, June 14, at his home.

He died of heart failure, his family said.

Married to Ruth Sims, a former Greenwich first selectman, Mr. Sims was known for his command of world, national and local affairs, influencing not only his family but his peers with his warmth and intelligence.

"He's a tremendous loss to all of us because he was such a bulwark," said his daughter Jennifer Sims.

Born Aug. 20, 1917, in North Adams, Mass., Mr. Sims attended Michigan State University. He later got his graduate degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

At the end of World War II, Mr. Sims helped implement the agreement in which Berlin was divided into American, British, French and Russian zones. He later became deputy director of German Public Affairs at the Department of State and then deputy director of the International Information Administration.

From 1954 to 1965, Mr. Sims served as executive vice president of the Institute of International Education, which promotes higher education and professional exchange programs. Mr. Sims' work at the institute attracted the attention of Sargent Shriver, who when asked by President Kennedy to help launch the Peace Corps in 1961, named Mr. Sims executive director of university relations.

Four years later, Mr. Sims joined the College Board in New York City as senior vice president for domestic and international programs. He also served for 14 years as chairman of America-Mideast Educational and Training Services Inc.

In 1977 his wife, Ruth Sims, was the first woman to be elected first selectman of Greenwich.

A supportive husband who had dinner ready when his wife came home from Town Hall meetings, Mr. Sims also was a powerful force in the lives of his children, encouraging them on their chosen career paths, his daughter said.

"Long before the women's movement became a powerful force in society, my dad was a strong supporter of all the women in his life," Jennifer Sims said. "He didn't see things in gender terms. He saw us as bundles of potential."

Influenced by his life in public service, her father tried to impress a sense of responsibility in his children, Jennifer Sims said, adding that in her job at the State Department, she often remembered her father telling her, "Your employers are the people. You're there to serve the people."

"I would sometimes push myself from my desk and say what's important here?" she said. "My father's words stayed with me everyday."

His ideas also impressed his peers, many of whom revered him for his quiet wisdom.

"He spoke after a lot of thought," said John Caron, friend and member of the Greenwich Forum on Addressing Issues of War and Peace, which Mr. Sims helped found in 1982. "That's why you can get a combination of a quiet man and a person who had a lot to say."

Mr. Sims' clarity of thought shone through in the op-ed pieces he wrote for Greenwich Time and The (Stamford) Advocate, said Derek Boothby, a retired director of the Europe Division of the U.N.'s Department of Political Affairs

"I always used to appreciate the sincerity, the depth and the freshness of his thoughts and his ability to articulate his thoughts," Boothby said. "He wanted people to think things through."

Although his columns often focused on foreign affairs, Mr. Sims was just as concerned about national and local issues, Boothby said.

"Al Sims is one of those people who saw the broad and distant horizon and the local and immediate horizon." he said.

Among all of his intellectual interests, it was education that was a core belief, said longtime family friend Lucy Johnson.

Between 1983 and 1987, Mr. Sims served on the Greenwich Board of Education, becoming vice chairman.

"He felt that education was the spine of good government, of world peace and he was interested in all of these things," said Johnson, also a former board member.

But what Johnson remembered most about Mr. Sims was how good a friend he was. Coming home from the hospital after surgery, Johnson was greeted with an apple pie Mr. Sims had made for her.

"Just a warm human being as well as brilliant," she said of him. Mr. Sims also served on the Board of Directors of Chester Oak State College, the Advisory Council of the Junior League, the Greenwich Arts Council and the Democratic Town Committee.

He also was a longtime member of the Stamford-based World Affairs Forum. On the many occasions where he helped organize events, he often brought his State Department experience and voice of moderation to the task, said forum President Mitchell Krauss.

"Here is a man who was very active and very influential," he said. "In that regard, he will be missed right away."

In addition to his daughter who lives in Arlington, Va., and his wife of 61 years, Mr. Sims is survived by two sons, Christopher Sims of Princeton, N.J., and William Sims of Alexandria, Va., seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow at the First Congregational Church in Old Greenwich. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Educational Programs at the Bruce Museum, One Museum Drive, Greenwich, CT 06830.

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