Joseph A. Sims

Joseph A. Sims

Joseph Arthur Sims, Sr. (July 16, 1914 - May 20, 1973), was a Democratic operative from Hammond, Louisiana, who was associated with his state's Long political faction. As the legal advisor to Governor Earl Kemp Long, he obtained Long's discharge from the Southeast Louisiana State Hospital in Mandeville in St. Tammany Parish, where Long had been temporarily admitted for mental health problems in a sensational series of incidents in the summer of 1959. Long turned to Sims for help after he began to distrust his personal lawyer, Theo Cangelosi of Baton Rouge.

Sims was born in Shreveport, the seat of Caddo Parish in far northwestern Louisiana, to Linus A. Sims (1882-1949) and the former Isabel Johnson. He was a paternal grandson of Levi Copedge Sims and the former Mary Emily Bussey of Alabama. Sims was educated in the Hammond public schools and the Southeastern School of Law. His father, as the principal of Hammond High School, worked to establish Hammond Junior College and then guided the establishment of what became the future Southeastern Louisiana University.

On June 29, 1939, Sims married the former Enid Lions (March 5, 1914 - May 6, 2005) of Madisonville, a small town in St. Tammany Parish. She was the daughter of Alphonse Lions (correct spelling), a Madisonville pharmacist, and the former Olympia Galatas. They had two sons, Joseph Arthur Sims, Jr. (born 1946), and David Robert Sims (born 1945), both of Hammond, the largest community in Tangipahoa Parish (pronounced TANG UH PAH HOE). Sims, Jr., is a personal injury attorney. After Sims' death, Enid was married for a time to a man named "Sears".

Sims was a former law partner of U.S. Representative James H. Morrison, of the Louisiana Sixth Congressional District, which includes the "Florida parishes" and Baton Rouge. Morrison, considered a liberal politician by Louisiana standards, made three unsuccessful bids for governor in the 1940s and was later denied Democratic renomination for his House seat in 1966, by the conservative John Richard Rarick of St. Francisville, the seat of West Feliciana Parish.

Sims was the Hammond-based district attorney for the 21st Judicial District from 1948-1952, when he was an unsuccessful candidate for state attorney general on the Long-endorsed ticket of Judge Carlos G. Spaht of Baton Rouge. Also running on that ticket was then freshman state Representative John J. McKeithen, an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor, who twelve years later would catapult into the governor's mansion. In 1967, McKeithen became the first Louisiana governor eligible to seek a second consecutive four-year term. He defeated Jimmy Morrison's former rival John Rarick by a wide margin. Another unsuccessful candidate on the 1952 "Long" ticket was Mary Evelyn Dickerson, later Mary Evelyn Parker, who ran for register of state lands. Thereafter, she was elected state treasurer on February 6, 1968.

In 1972, Sims joined the staff of incoming Attorney General William J. "Billy" Guste, Jr., of New Orleans but died within a year. He was also the senior partner of the firm Sims and Mack. He was a member of five attorneys' associations: American Bar, Louisiana Bar, American Trial Lawyers, Louisina Trial Lawyers, and Gamma Eta Gamma legal fraternity.

He was a Methodist: indeed his father and paternal grandfather were Methodist ministers. Sims died in Pass Manchac, Louisiana. He is interred in Greenlawn Cemetery in Hammond.


"Joseph Arthur Sims", "A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography", Vol. 2 (1988), p. 745

Sims obituary, "Baton Rouge Morning Advocate", May 21, 1973

Sims obituary, "New Orleans Times-Picayune", May 21, 1973

Sims obituary, "Hammond, Louisiana, Vindicator", May 24, 1973

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