Robert J. Sims, 94, of Wayne, a financial planner and longtime friend of the Catholic Church, died Wednesday, Oct. 21, of heart failure at Beaumont at Bryn Mawr.
An upbeat man, Mr. Sims welcomed everyone with a smile. When asked how he was doing, he always replied, “Fantastic,” his family said in a tribute.
Born in Philadelphia, he was the son of Stanley Sims, a Lithuanian immigrant, and Marie Sims, a Lithuanian born in Girardville, Schuylkill County.
His father operated a corner grocery in the city’s Frankford neighborhood back when working-class people ran a tab until payday, he told the website catholicphilly.com in 2014. During the Great Depression, however, paydays could be slim to none.
“We were poor,” Mr. Sims said. “Those were the days you put cardboard in your shoes. If it rained, you just got a dry piece of cardboard.”
At an early age, his parents instilled in him the importance of Christian faith, family, and hard work. Later, he added the importance of friends. He never lost sight of those principles, his family said.
Mr. Sims graduated from Northeast High School and served as a Navy flight-school instructor during World War II. Afterward, he entered a degree program at Temple University but ended up earning an inclusive master’s degree in financial services from American College in Bryn Mawr.
He would go on to become professionally certified in financial planning and consulting, as well as insurance underwriting.
He started his career in the insurance industry, becoming a top salesperson for Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. of Philadelphia and then an executive with Mutual of New York Insurance Company.
In 1960, Mr. Sims saw a need for financial planning services so he founded Fin-Plan Group, which later became Sims Financial Services L.L.C. in Wayne. He was president and then chairman of the board. He never really retired.
Over time, Mr. Sims became known as a trusted financial planner in Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and Delaware. He was the founding president of the Delaware Valley Chapter of Financial Planners and a national lecturer on the subject.
In 1965, he married Gloria Lundell McCarter, a young widow with three children. They had three children and adopted a seventh child.
He was a member of St. Katharine of Siena Parish in Wayne, where he befriended then-Deacon Kevin Gallagher.
“Bob’s love for his Catholic faith and the practice of his faith was an enormous part of his daily life to his final days,” said Father Gallagher, now at St. Denis Parish in Havertown. “He knew the good the church did for the less fortunate, and was proud to be a part of helping make the resources of the church reach as many people as possible.”
Mr. Sims was active in the Men of Malvern, Catholic Leadership Institute, Catholic Philopatrian Institute, Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, and the Stewards of St. John Neumann.
He served the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as chairman of the finance and audit committees. He made diocesan decisions with Cardinals John Krol, Anthony J. Bevilacqua, and Justin F. Rigali. He was a lifelong close friend and adviser to Cardinal John P. Foley in Rome.
He knew five popes and was twice honored by Pope John Paul II, given the titles Knight of St. Gregory, and then Knight Commander of St. Gregory. The latter is the highest honor that can be given to a layman by a pope.
Mr. Sims was never too busy for prayer. He said grace before meals and got down on his hands and knees to say, “Thank you, dear God, for another day,” daughter Moira Hobson recalled.
When not working, Mr. Sims enjoyed travel. When Mr. Sims turned 90, Pope Francis saw him twice in one week and remarked that he did not look 90.
Besides his daughter Moira, he is survived by children Barbara Hogan, Lisa Byrne, Dana Hospodar, Ernie Sims, Carter Sims, and Peter Sims; 20 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and a sister.
Funeral services at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, are private, but can be livestreamed via https://www.stkatharineofsiena.org/.