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Sim Wilson passes away
Former newspaper owner and state legislator Simeon R. "Sim" Wilson III passed away Feb. 8 at Harrison Memorial Hospital in Bremerton at the age of 81.
Wilson was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1972, and served the 10th Legislative District for 20 years before he retired. He sold The Marysville Globe and The Arlington Times to Sun News in February of 1997, after serving as publisher of both newspapers for more than 30 years.
Wilson was admitted to the hospital for kidney cancer surgery in late January, and in spite of the surgery's apparent success, he collapsed Feb. 8 and could not be revived, according to wife Karen Wilson.
Wilson was born Aug. 27, 1927, in Hood River, Ore. As a child, he grew up on Whidbey Island, and during high school, his family moved to Marysville.
Wilson's parents, Ruth and Sim Wilson Jr., acquired The Marysville Globe in 1944 and The Arlington Times in 1964. Sim Wilson III graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, and from the University of Washington with a Master of Fine Arts Degree. After serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, including three years of being stationed on board USS Baltimore, he started working at the Globe in 1957, and took over the paper with his sister, Muriel Wilson Williams, in 1965.
"I wasn't that good of an English student," said Sim Wilson III, when interviewed about his mother soon after her death. "She taught me how to proofread. The Norwegian names were a challenge. She made me understand how important it is to spell names correctly."
Wilson married Betty Rust in 1959, with whom he raised two children on Priest Point near Marysville, and Karen Schmidt in 1993, after meeting as fellow Republican state legislators. He forged a number of close relationships through his career, including his friendships with Stanwood/Camano News Editor and Publisher Dave Pinkham, and retired former newspaper editor, manager, publisher and co-owner Wallie Funk.
Pinkham dealt with Wilson professionally, first as a politician on Pinkham's beat starting in 1976, then as a fellow publisher starting in 1985. In both career fields, Pinkham respected "the level head that was the hallmark of Sim Wilson," calling him "a great newspaper man" and "a devoted servant of the people" as a state legislator.
"He always strived to inject common sense and fairness into the process," Pinkham said. "This should be a time to stop and reflect on a man who made tremendous contributions."
For Funk, Wilson was a generational peer, whom he first met in the 1950s through conventions of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. Like Pinkham, Funk also interacted with Wilson as a result of covering the state legislature's business.
"He was a thoughtful, interested legislator," said Funk, who stated that he and Wilson shared the same inspiration as community newspaper owners. "We had tremendous relationships with our communities. A country newspaper should have the closest, loudest voice to the community in which its readers live. Sim was a good man in his field."
"It is very sad to lose such a leader and role model in our legislative community," said Washington State Gov. Chris Gregoire, in a Feb. 10 statement on Wilson's passing. "His 20 years of public service are commendable, and his positive and constructive approach will be missed by all who knew him."
Gregoire noted that Wilson served as chairman of the House Transportation Committee and the joint Legislative Transportation Committee, as well as House minority leader.
"He was a mentor to many in the Legislature," Gregoire said. "Flags on the Capitol campus will be lowered in remembrance of Sim. My family and I will keep his loved ones in our prayers."
Editor's Note: Share your memories of Sim Wilson III in the Comments Section below.