In memoriam: Jerry Simms

Robin Wiener remembers ISRI’s former chair, who died Jan. 17.

January 21, 2020

Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, sent an email alert out to the association’s members notifying them of the Jan. 17 death of former ISRI Chair Jerry Simms.

Wiener writes that Simms, who had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease, “reinvigorated our state program, expanded ISRI’s resources to fight metals theft, successfully prevented EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) from going down the path of regulating scrap as hazardous waste and obtained EPA’s authorization to recycle plastics from shredder fluff” during his tenure from 2012 to 2014.

“Jerry received ISRI’s Lifetime Achievement award last year for his decades of dedication and leadership within the industry,” Wiener writes. “It was Jerry who inspired and led ISRI’s efforts to reform Superfund that resulted in the passage of the Superfund Recycling Equity Act (SREA) in 1999. His letter to the ISRI leadership in the early '90s, calling for the rallying of ISRI members at the grassroots level and the leveraging of their political power to effect change, spurred ISRI’s efforts on this critical issue.”

Wiener writes that Simms, alongside Mark Reiter, ISRI’s vice president of government relations who died suddenly Jan. 15, helped mobilize the industry and build the political structure that remains today at ISRI. According to Jerry, "when working in concert, ISRI and our members can achieve any successes we need in the battles that confront us, be they legislative, regulatory or public perception.”

“Simms showed us the power one person can have, bringing together an entire industry to fight for a cause,” Wiener writes, adding that “his dedication to ISRI and recycling was endless.” She describes him as an “incredibly special person” and a great friend and colleague who will be “missed by so many within and outside ISRI and the recycling industry.”

Wiener says a tribute page has been set up on ISRI’s website for members to leave messages and memories.

In lieu of flowers, people can honor and remember Simms through donations to either the Michael J. Fox Foundation or the Colorado-based Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson's.