‘Corky’ Simms, 1935-2013

corky simms

‘Corky’ Simms passed away November 17, 2013, at his home in Klamath after a three-year battle with cancer. He was born on January 10, 1935, at Kapel, on the Klamath River, to Doris Roberts and raised by Hector Simms.

After his service in the United States Marines, he returned home to work as pile driver, and then went on to work in masonry. He taught many young Yurok tribal members the ways of the Klamath River and how to carry on the traditions that he lived by.

An incident from the mid-70’s remains cemented in my mind. In a conversation with Marge Paul, who owned and operated “Paul’s Cannery,” jus’ north of the new Klamath town site, Corky had ‘strong native energy.’

He was being chased by the law from U.S. 101 up Requa Road, reaching speeds in excess of 90-miles an hour, when he decided to ditch his car in the river between the Patapoff’s home and the Requa Inn. Officers saw his car hit the water and sink with him in it.

Deputies, officers from the highway patrol and volunteer firefighters spent hours searching the river bank for him. It was believed that after escaping the car, Corky either doubled-back and got out of the water under the authorities nose’s or he swam across the river to the southern bank.

Mrs. Paul had a third explanation and swore it was the truth . She said Corky turned himself into a salmon and swam up river to Paul’s cannery, where deputies would later find him sitting at the bar sipping a beer, in dry clothes.

I lived around the Rez long-enough to learn there are things that ‘white-man medicine’ cannot explain.

He is survived by his wife, Brenda Simms; brother Don Natt; sister Amanda Donahue; mother of his children Vada Berry; daughters Winter Berry and Malea Simms; step-daughter Shannon and husband Jon Richards. He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers, Skee Skelton and Butch Lewis.

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