LONGTIME JOURNALIST MARY LOU SIMMS PASSES AWAY AFTER BRIEF ILLNESS
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Mary Lou Simms passed away July 19, 2020 after a brief illness. Her career in journalism spanned more than 50 years. She was recognized for her writing talent while working for the St. Petersburg Jr. College in the early 1960s and left school when offered a full-time job at the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) as a reporter. She went on to have a long career, first as a reporter and then for more than 30 years as a features and lifestyle editor for newspapers all over the U.S. She worked for newspapers in Orlando, West Palm Beach, Naples and Boca Raton, Florida as well as newspapers in Albany, New York, Elyria, Ohio, Fresno, California and others.
After retiring from the newspaper business, she became a wildlife advocate, working as an investigative journalist, exposing the wrongdoings of local communities in their mishandling of local wildlife, particularly its resident Canada goose populations. She had a rare ability to meld compassion for a misunderstood species with hard-hitting facts relating to their mistreatment and mismanagement, writing incisive exposes that opened the eyes of the general public. She received a grant from The Fund for Investigative Journalism in Washington, D.C., under which she did a two-year investigation of the USDA's Wildlife Services involving its controversial method of rounding up & gassing resident goose populations across the United States. She published numerous articles on Huffington Post, as well as in other literary venues. She also worked in the local community teaching tolerance and compassion for the native wildlife, particularly Canada Geese.
Simms is slated to receive a posthumous award (The Goose Savior Award) from In Defense of Animals located in San Rafael, California. She will also be honored in a film dedication for “Let Them Eat Geese,” an upcoming documentary by Tyler Chase.
She raised pedigree cats which were her pride and joy. She had a daughter, Holly, who died in 2017. She is survived by her son, Sean Simms, and four grandchildren. At the time of her death, she was working on a book of short stories: "Almost Human: The Hidden Lives of Geese.”
Tribute from Choo Choo Rosenbloom:
I got to know Mary Lou when she contacted me shortly after I began this website in 2005. Initially, she sent me a story about the Canada geese and other geese who resided at a park in Helena, Alabama. She had been friends with them for two years. Over the years, I published many of her stories and articles and always admired her passion, compassion, and tireless dedication and devotion for these sadly maligned creatures. She will be terribly missed but we must honor her memory by continuing our fight for the geese.