Okanagan Science Centre founder Bill Sim, left, shares a laugh with centre program development and delivery director Kevin Aschenmeier. Simm died July 4 at age 94. (Okanagan Science Centre - photo)

Okanagan Science Centre founder fondly remembered

Bill Sim of Vernon died July 4 at age 94

Bill Sim dreamed of science education for all kids. Science accessible to everyone.

Sim, founder of Vernon’s Okanagan Science Centre, died July 4 at age 94.

“Bill Sim had a vision. His vision was other-oriented, to create a better world,” said Jim Swingle, current executive director at the science centre, on the organization’s website. “And he put in the hard work to make his vision a reality. I can’t think of a better definition of greatness.”

Founded 28 years ago by Sim, the science centre was a room in the basement of the old Tolko building on 30th Avenue and had no staff. All the work was completed by volunteers fueled with the love of science, like Sim. Bill and those other dedicated volunteers, including his wife Marg, worked hard and together they grew that vision.

Not long after, the science centre was finally able to hire its first staff member, Kevin Aschenmeier, who has delivered science programming to generations of Okanagan children, and continues to do so to this day. Still, wrote Swingle, Bill, Marg, and volunteers carried on with their work.

A few years later the science centre moved out of the basement and into a whole building of its own – its current building – the former schoolhouse in Polson Park.

Sim’s dream continued to grow.

“From a room in a borrowed basement staffed by volunteers, the Okanagan Science Centre has grown to host more than 25,000 visitors a year with planetarium shows, dinosaurs, and a range of exhibits designed and constructed ourselves, here at the science centre Bill built,” wrote Swingle.

READ MORE: Science centre stories sought

“On any given school day, we’ll have in excess of a hundred school children attending our programs. Each summer, hundreds more children attend our science camps. Tourists and visitors come from around the world to visit a science centre in a relatively small town in the North Okanagan.”

In a letter to the editor in The Morning Star in 2013, Sim and his family threw their support behind a proposed cultural centre, sharing similarities with their vision of the science centre.

“For us, as members of the original founding family, to have a vision like the Okanagan Science Centre realized to such a degree is a very humbling experience. And, we see more for the science centre, much more. We have seen the science centre grow from Science on Wheels, where Starlab, a portable planetarium visited schools all over the province, to a temporary home in the Tolko building then to the heritage building that it occupies today. Like other worthwhile organizations serving and enriching a growing community, the centre also needs room to grow.”

There is no word yet on any date for a service for Sim.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Man accused in Salmon Arm 7-Eleven fire pleads not guilty to breach of bail

Supreme Court trial will decide arson charges while Provincial Court will look at breach charge

Landslide stops repair crew from reaching internet service tower near Salmon Arm

MyBC Datacom users in Tappen, Sunnybrae, White Lake and parts of the Salmon Valley may be affected

Salmon Arm’s Elijah Lazar wins provincial wrestling title

Lazar overcomes Parmjot Sidhu from DW Poppy Secondary in the final on Feb. 17

Chase Heat in fine form as season winds down

The team’s first playoff opponents will be the 100 Mile House Wranglers.

Axe throwing, road hockey among Salmon Arm food drive festivities

Fill the Pantry event wraps up on Monday, Feb. 17 with day of activities. 600lbs of food collected.

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Town of Osoyoos voices support for proposed casino

Osoyoos council voted to submit a letter of support for a proposed casino on OIB land

Most Read