She had three firsts: Greenwich’s first full-time first selectman; first woman first selectman ever in Greenwich; and the town’s first Democratic first selectman in 72 years.
That’s what our current first selectman, Republican Peter Tesei, pointed out in a recent email in reference to former Greenwich first selectman Ruth Sims, who served from 1978 to 1981.
This evening, May 2, is the 2013 Art to the Avenue kick off. It’s also the Greenwich Arts Council’s 40th anniversary. The kick-off and anniversary celebration will be tonight at 6 p.m. in front of the old Town Hall that now houses the Greenwich Senior Center and the Arts Council.
Tesei, who will issue the proclamation at the kick-off, intends to incorporate into his comments a tribute to former Greenwich first selectman Ruth Sims.
Said Tesei: “…she was instrumental in establishing the Senior/Art Center during her administration and also secured Greenwich Common – the land adjacent to the Havemeyer Building as park land…”
Tesei said his tribute to Sims would highlight “her vision for this town and the manner by which she went about governing: inclusive and with an eye toward being non-partisan.”
Last year, Tesei delivered an eloquent tribute to Sims at her June 29 memorial ceremony at the Bruce Museum. Sims died on June 7, 2012 in Princeton, NJ, at the age of 92.
At the memorial ceremony, Tesei presented the town flag to the Sims family. One of the Sims sons, Christopher Sims, a 2011 Nobel Prize winner in economics, received the flag on behalf of the family.
Sims had four children. In addition to Christopher, there is William, head of the Ohio Association of Public Charter Schools; Jennifer, a professor at Georgetown University, who served as assistant secretary of state for intelligence coordination; and Marjorie, a poet and environmentalist who died in 1987.
Sims’ husband, Albert, who died in 2002, was a former vice president of the college entrance examination board and a former member the the Greenwich Board of Education.
Said Tesei at the memorial celebration: “I think she was someone who really looked beyond politics.She governed in a manner of what was best for the town.”
The Sims family moved to Greenwich in 1953. Sims served as president of the Greenwich League of Women Voters and as president of the state League, and also served on the League’s national board.
In her 1984 Greenwich Library oral history interview, Sims says: “… I think I was perceived as not so much a political candidate as a non-political candidate because of my long association with the League of Women Voters and of the work I’d done in Greenwich on various boards. I was known in other contexts than politics,so I think I was perceived as a ‘good government’ kind of candidate.”
The plaque that Tesel dedicates to Sims tonight – a dedication all at his own initiative – will ultimately be affixed to the wall at the entrance to Greenwich Common across from the Senior Center and Arts Council, not far from the magnificent Beech tree that’s been identified in recognition of this area as dedicated parkland.
The plaque reads:
In Memory of Ruth L.Sims First Selectman 1978-1981
Her foresight led to the dedication of this land as park space for future generations