Ruth L. Sims, who in 1977 became the first woman to be elected First Selectman in Greenwich, passed away Friday, First Selectman Peter Tesei announced. She was 92.
Mrs. Sims also had the distinction of serving as the first full-time chief elected official. That distinction thought didn't come without a hard-earned win. The election results were challenged in court when voting discrepencies were discovered and a judge ruled the results were tied and ordered a new election on Dec. 29, 1977. She handily won by more than 3,500 votes.
"She was an extremely accomplished in civic affairs. She certainly was a pioneering figure. Her service to the town is well respected," said Tesei, who recalled meeting her at Town Hall when he was about 9-years-old. "She seemed like a gracious lady who carried herself with great poise and distinction," Tesei recalled of that meeting.
On Friday afternoon, Tesei, his administrative assistant Paula Belmont and Town Hall facilities foreman John Thompson erected a memorial with a condolence book in the lobby of town hall.
Thompson recalled working as a 16-year-old at Greenwich Point checking visitor's beach cards. "I stopped her from coming into the beach. She didn't have her card. I told you need a beach card. That was our job, no one without a beach card could get in," Thompson said. "She asked me if I knew who she was. I told her I didn't ..." Thompson said Mrs. Sims wasn't angry, rather she praised the enforcement to a recreation department supervisor.
Mrs. Sims was born March 4, 1920 in Rochester, NY, the fourth of seven children born to William and Emily Leiserson. She grew up in Ohio and Washington, DC. She was a graduate of Oberlin College where she majored in English literature and later because a college trustee.
After graduation, she worked in the office of Sen. Harold Burton in Washington and then for the Division of Defense Housing of the Federal Works Agency.
In 1941, she married Albert Sims. The couple had four children and moved to Riverside in 1954.
Mrs. Sims' extensive community involvement included serving many boards including the PTA of Riverside, Eastern Middle and Greenwich High schools; the Community Council and the Commuinity Chest. In 1975-76, she was vice chair of the United Way.
Her long-time commitment to the League of Women Voters began in 1953. She later served as president of the local and state leagues and on the board of the national league. Mrs. Sims also was chairman of the Commission on Compensation of Elected State Officials and Judges. She also was appointed by former Gov. Ella Grasso to a committee which recommended the reorganization of the state legislature.
Mrs. Sims also served on the board of directors of the former Southern New England Telephone Co., the United States-South Africa Leader Exchange Program, the Regional Plan Association; was a founding board member of the Connecticut Women's Bank; a member of the 1983-84 Charter Commission and president of Greenwich Neighbors.
Tesei ordered flags at Town Hall to be flown at half-staff "Out of respect for Mrs. Sims and her service to the Town of Greenwich," Tesei said in an email to town employees and officials, announcing her passing.
"May God Bless Ruth L. Sims and may she rest in peace," Tesei said.
(Greenwich Patch will provide detailed obituary and funeral information as it becomes available.)