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Bill Sims Jr. dies after battling Gehrig's disease

By Paul Huggins 340-2395

Bill Sims Jr. knew death was inevitable when diagnosed with ALS 21/2 years ago.

That day arrived Thursday at his home in Brentwood, Tenn.

Instead of living in fear, the former Decatur resident lived his last days to their fullest, continuing his lifelong desire to help others, friends said.

Mr. Sims, 43, used his situation to raise awareness about his "most cruel and ruthless disease." This included a fundraiser that brought in more than $153,000 toward finding a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig's disease.

"Early on, talking to him he said, 'Look, there's no help for me. Really, all I want to do is get help for the people who are going to get ALS in the future,' " said Eugene Sartor, his friend for nearly 30 years.

Mr. Sims was great at everything he did, Sartor added — whether water skiing, competing in triathlons, helping employees improve their insurance and finances, or taking care of his family.

"Bill just had a beautiful smile, and you wanted to be around him," said lifelong friend Clint Shelton.

Mr. Sims was the son of Dr. Bill and Betty Sims of Decatur. He was a graduate of Decatur High School and Auburn University.

Mr. Sims, who was vice president of human resources for AmSurge Corp., didn't waste much time with self-pity, even though he had seen his grandmother die of ALS years earlier, and confided to Sartor that it would be the worst way to die.

Though the disease took away his ability to speak, he used a special computer to communicate. He wrote an Internet blog regularly — the last entry was June 4 — to encourage others to "never give up."

In May, he wrote of living in the present.

"Think about the moments in your life you vividly remember," Mr. Sims wrote. "Those are the times you were living in the moment.

"Living in the moment is easy during the significant moments of your life such as your wedding day, or during a great vacation. Most days don't have significant moments, though, and if you're not careful, the everyday fears, resentments, stress and distractions will rob you of your life."

Visitation is Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. at Brentwood Funeral Home, 9010 Church St. Funeral will be Sunday at 3 p.m. at Brentwood Baptist Church, 7777 Concord Road. Burial will be Monday at 10 a.m. in Woodlawn Cemetery in Nashville, 660 Thompson Lane.

Mr. Sims is survived by his wife, Tara, and two children, Will and Alli.

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