The story of how an
ordinary man did
something truly Awesome!

Many folks who know Joe Sims think of him as pretty ordinary, maybe a little out of the mainstream but generally just an ordinary guy. They probably know that he is a retired mechanic who was married to the love of his life for 57 years before she passed after a long battle with cancer.

Larry Joseph “Joe” Sims was born in Palestine, West Virginia, and grew up in the Mid-Ohio Valley. His life was mostly ordinary growing up…three brothers and a sister all older than he. His dad was a farmer and mechanic. His mother, to whom he was very close, was a housewife and sadly passed when Joe was only 16 years old. Joe graduated high school and after meeting his wife they together took courses at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. Although he does not have a formal college degree, Joe has a broad vocabulary and a vast knowledge of many, many topics. In talking with Joe, one can soon realize that despite his modesty he is quite intelligent for an ordinary man.

Joe had several jobs through the years. He worked at a blacktop plant, drove a dump truck, and was employed by Mon Power and at the Marbon plastic plant. One proud accomplishment for Joe was that he placed third highest out of 165 persons who were tested on their knowledge of the plant operation and maintenance at Marbon.

Joe liked cars eventually becoming an excellent mechanic. In the ‘70’s he attended the Wankel rotary engine school in Michigan, and he tells the story of meeting the head of General Motors at a training seminar and talks about how he sat at the GM head’s table during dinner. Having an auto dealer’s license, through the years Joe owned and traded a lot of cars. He fondly talks about a gray ’58 English Ford he owned and drove to Memphis to see Elvis. That was his first trip to Graceland, and he “chased” Elvis across Memphis…Joe and a friend in the English Ford and Elvis in a red Ford pickup. Joe who was 19 years old at the time says that when he caught up to Elvis at a convenience store, he could not force his lips to utter a single word when he came face to face with the superstar. That bothered Joe because he was such a fan of Elvis. But he returned to Memphis and Graceland about once a year for the next 3 or 4 years after that. In fact, on Joe’s next trip to Memphis, the staff at Graceland was having a problem with the famous front main gate. The gate would not open, and a crowd of people were waiting outside for a tour. Joe says, “Of course, being a mechanic, I knew how to fix the gate. So, I did.” That led to Joe being invited into Graceland where he met Elvis and several of his relatives and entourage. Not everyone can say they worked on the gate at Graceland or got to spend time with Elvis. Yet Joe remained mostly ordinary.

Although he was not a musician or singer himself, Joe loved music, especially early Southern Gospel music featuring four‑part male harmony. He enjoyed going to singings and along the way met J. D. Sumner of the Stamps Quartet with whom he developed a friendship. Joe listened to Southern Gospel music on the radio and became acquainted with the famous Molly O’Day who had a gospel records program at WEMM-FM in Huntington. Joe would visit Molly and her husband Lynn Davis often spending time sitting with them on their front porch. Through the years, Joe and his wife Joyce attended hundreds Gospel singings. He met and became acquainted with many Gospel singing groups including the Stamps, the Happy Goodman Family, the Crabb Family, the Isaacs, Doyle Lawson, the LeFevres, the Speers, the Blackwood Brothers, and the Statesmen. He truly enjoyed Southern Gospel singing his whole life. Joe has said he believes that he probably heard Gospel music and the Grand Ole Opry on his parent’s radio while he was still in the womb.

Still, to most folks, Joe seemed more or less…just ordinary.

Joe and his wife, Joyce, lived in a modest home on a wooded plot of land alongside the interstate near Rockport, West Virginia. Over the years, they traveled extensively eventually visiting all 50 states and all the Canadian provinces. They toured Israel, Jordan, Egypt, the Bahamas, and Mexico, and enjoyed several cruise trips. They often attended Gospel sings and bluegrass festivals traveling in a motorhome and camping along interstates and roadways. Joe and Joyce routed many of their trip through Nashville so they could visit the Grand Ole Opry. But, as Joe puts it, they “were never blessed with offspring.” So, it was just Joe and Joyce and Joe’s mother‑in‑law who often traveled with them. Since Joe’s wife passed, he has continued to live alone in that same modest house where he (tearing up a bit) says he is always welcomed at the door by “two house cats who are happy to see me” when he returns home.

A small ordinary home for an ordinary man.

But he loved Gospel music and in early 2023, Joe learned that WNRJ-FM, his hometown Southern Gospel radio voice in the Mid‑Ohio Valley, might be sold. He became concerned that a new owner would change the format on the station to something other than Gospel music, and he did not want that. So, Joe got busy. He contacted us and implored us to purchase WNRJ-FM and keep it a Southern Gospel Music station.

During this time in early 2023, Joe was being treated for bladder cancer taking treatments that nearly debilitated him for a couple of days each week. But that did not stop his efforts to save the Gospel format on WNRJ. He also suffered neuropathy in his feet and legs so bad that his doctors wondered how he was still able to walk. Indeed, Joe had many health issues some springing from earlier in life injuries. He had multiple brain surgeries between 2010 and 2012 because of an auto accident that caused a severe head injury. He had to have about 24 inches of his small intestines removed in the early 2,000’s, and he battled depression and what he calls mental anguish all his life especially during his 20’s and 30’s.

At the time in early 2023, along with all these ailments, Joe was also grieving the recent loss of his wife who had succumbed to cancer after a six-year battle in June of 2022.

But Joe did not let his physical pains or his heartache stop him. His faith in God never wavered. He continued attending church and Bible study every week even when he was in excruciating pain from the cancer treatments. He simply stated that, “If I have to be in pain, I would rather be in pain in church than in pain at home alone.” Joe often gave praise to God for the strength to bear his pain.

And through all his pain, Joe continued his efforts to ensure that Gospel music did not quit playing on WNRJ. He was relentless and persistent, and he prevailed. Because of his persuasion, because of his persistence, because of his sincerity, we decided to use a substantial personal monetary gift Joe had given, that we could have used for anything else we choose, to fund the purchase of the WNRJ FM and preserve the Christian format on the station.

Joe did not seek acclaim or recognition for his efforts, but it was his love for Southern Gospel Music, his inspiration, his generosity, and his persistence that kept Gospel music playing on WNRJ. Because of Joe’s efforts to preserve the Gospel format on the station, we have changed the call sign of WNRJ FM to WJOE and renamed the station…Joe 103.9.

Joe made it happen, and that’s not ordinary at all. No, Joe Sims is not just an ordinary Joe. He truly is an Awesome Joe!

© Copyright - Bouldin Radio, LLC