Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 20, 2014

Chicago Defender to honor Bluefield native, Dr. Sims

BLUEFIELD — A Bluefield native who has combined his unique blend of personal passions into a successful medical practice, will be honored later this month as one of the Chicago Defender’s “Men of Excellence.”

H. Steven Sims, MD, an associate professor of otolaryngology at the University of Illinois at the Chicago College of Medicine, and director of the Chicago Institute of Voice Care, is among a group of 50 African American men in the Greater Chicago area who will be inducted into the Defender’s Men of Excellence. The ceremony will take place on Jan. 31 at the South Shore Cultural Center.

Sims, 47, a 1984 graduate of Bluefield High School is the son of Elsie Sims and the late Herb Sims. His maternal grandparents were John and Helen Williamson and his paternal grandparents were Castoria and David Sims. While Sims’ parents served as great role models in terms of community service — the Herb Sims Youth Center is named in his father’s memory — his grandfather John Williamson learned the art of crafting eye glasses at Taylor Optical and was later a “surface tech” at Mercer Optical, while his grandfather David Sims was well known throughout the coalfields for his singing voice. Castoria Sims was the driving force behind the Bluefield Beautification Commission for many years.

Dr. Sims graduated from the Yale University School of Medicine, completed a research fellowship at the National Institute on Deafness and Communications Disorders as well as a clinical fellowship at the Vanderbilt Voice Center. Dr. Sims is an accomplished musician who plays trombone, bassoon and piano. As an undergraduate at Yale, he was a member of choirs and is an experienced vocalist as well.

Perhaps it is no surprise that when he developed a medical practice in Chicago, he specialized in treating problems of performing artists and other voice professionals. According to a press release from the Chicago Institute for Voice Care: “He has worked with ‘Wicked,’ ‘Jersey Boys,’ ‘Book of Mormon,’ and numerous shows as well as soloists and Chicago’s Oscar winning ‘Dreamgirl.’”

On the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Sims shared some thoughts about Dr. King’s legacy, as well as the role his family played in helping him realize his dreams.

“Regarding Dr. King, my bachelors’ degree is in African American history and I have had occasion, in Chicago, to share a meal with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who was there when Dr. King was assassinated.

“For me, his legacy was administered through my family since I was not yet 2 years old when he was taken from us,” he wrote in response to an email. “They taught me to work hard and always be prepared for an opportunity. They set high expectations, but always helped all three of us,” he said of himself, his sister, L’tanya, and his brother, the late Jay Sims.

“So, my first heroes are my parents. While I revere Dr. King’s work, the most profound examples for me were David and Castoria Sims, John and Helen Williamson and Herbert and Elsie Sims,” he wrote. “So, my hope would be that we all understand that children are a gift and much of what they become is determined by what we tell them and what we expect of them.”

During its heyday, The Chicago Defender, had a weekly circulation of 250,000 and was considered to be the most influential of all the African American newspapers in the U.S. The Defender continues to serve as a voice for the African American community in Chicago, nationally and internationally.

“It is a special honor to be recognized by such a venerable publication,” Sims wrote. “My bachelor’s degree is in African American studies and the Chicago Defender was a prime resource for me. It is humbling to be included in its pages.”

The honorees were nominated by Defender readers. Dawn Hasbrouck will serve as host of the induction ceremony on Jan. 31, with Julia Huff and The Company Band providing the entertainment. In addition to the reception and induction ceremony, Sims, as well as the other 49 honorees, will be featured in the Defender’s special section on Jan. 29.

— Contact Bill Archer at

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