Corine G. Sims (far right), presented a plaque to Illinois Secretary of State Jesse
White (center) when he spoke at the Martin Luther King Jr. Fellowship Dinner. At left
is Sims' daughter, Barbara Malone; at right is her husband, the Rev. James Sims, Sr.
Festival Organizer Corine G. Sims Dies
August 6, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Corine Garrett Sims, founder of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
National Holiday Gospel Festival, co-sponsored by Illinois Wesleyan University, died
Friday, Aug. 3, 2007, at the age of 78.
Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10 at Kibler-Smith Memorial Home,
Bloomington. Memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 11 at Mt. Pisgah
Baptist Church, Bloomington. The Rev. Frank McSwain will officiate. Interment will
be in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, Bloomington. Memorials may be made to the family.
“I was saddened to learn of the passing of our friend, Corine Sims,” said Illinois
Wesleyan University President Richard F. Wilson. “Her enthusiasm and drive made the
MLK Gospel Festival possible and helped to keep the legacy of Dr. King alive on the
Illinois Wesleyan campus and in the Bloomington-Normal community. We will miss her
enduring dedication and commitment.”
Sims was known for her dynamic personality and tireless efforts to improve her local
community. She organized the Gospel Festival in 1991, saying she saw a need to honor
King on a spiritual level. As executive director of the United Community Gospel Singers
of Bloomington-Normal, she envisioned a day of gospel music. Sims approached former
Illinois Wesleyan University President Minor Myers jr. to request Illinois Wesleyan
as a venue for the event. The University is a fitting site for the Festival: King
spoke at the campus twice, in 1961 and in 1966.
Now in its 18th year, the Gospel Festival that Sims created is celebrated each year
around King’s birthday. The Festival honors King with hours of gospel music from choirs
from Chicago to Springfield, Ill.
Corine G. Sims addressed the audience at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday
Sims’ activism continued beyond the festival. Shortly after the festival began, Sims
helped to organize the Martin Luther King Jr. Fellowship Dinner. Held in conjunction
with the Festival, the dinner has hosted legendary speakers, including King's children,
Martin III, Bernice, and Yolanda; civil rights leaders Dorothy Cotton and the Rev.
Joseph Lowery; famed journalist Roger Wilkins; and Secretary of State Jesse White.
Mrs. Sims is survived by her husband, the Rev. James E. Sims, pastor of Second Baptist
Church of Streator; daughter, Barbara (Anton) Sims-Malone, Bloomington; three sons,
Charles L. (Nancy) Sims, Peoria; Jarry D. (Esther) Sims, Decatur; and Jimmy L. Sims,
Peoria; two adopted sons, Marcus Terhune, Champaign, and Darryll Terhune, Bloomington;
30 grandchildren; and 26 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by one son, James Edward Sims Jr.; one adopted son, Donald
(Tony) Terhune; one grandson, Anthony DeLance Malone; and 11 brothers and sisters.
Contact: Sherry Wallace, (309) 556-3792