Ray Sims Col. Ray Sims, 90, known as one of America’s greatest auctioneers of purebred cattle, died Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. Services will be held Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Red Bridge Baptist Church, 4901 East Red Bridge Road, Kansas City, MO. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m., with services beginning at 2 p.m.
Although Sims had been retired for more than a quarter-century, word of his passing spread quickly throughout the cattle industry, and many recall the significant influence his career had on purebred livestock marketing.
“Ray Sims was the benchmark to which all other auctioneers were measured,” Leroy Van Dyke told Drovers/CattleNetwork. “He had a profound effect on the auction business.”
(See links to video clips and Sims' obituary on page 2 of this story.)
Sims career as an auctioneer spanned 46 years and an estimated 7,000 sales. He was credited with leading “a revolution that turned purebred auction sales from slow-moving, auctioneer-testifying showpieces into practical, effective marketing events,” former American Angus Association director of communications Keith Evans told the Angus Journal for a profile of Sims in 2010. “Nearly all auctioneers and other livestock marketing professionals follow the pattern laid down by Sims.”
Van Dyke called Sims’ style a “proficient, totally precise and concise form of bid calling. He totally revolutionized the marketing of purebred cattle.”
Van Dyke, who worked with Sims and other auctioneers as a field representative for the Chicago Drovers Journal in the 1950s, was catapulted into country music fame in 1956 with his composition “The Auctioneer,” a song (co-written with Buddy Black) about the life of his cousin Col. Ray Sims. The single sold over 2.5 million records.
Sims was a Missouri native and began auctioneering as a teenager. Soon after graduating from high school he attended Reppert’s School of Auctioneering in Indiana. Sims entered the Army during World War II, and served in the South Pacific before returning to Missouri to resume his auction career.
Purebred livestock sales at the time were a slow-paced event, with auctioneers often stopping to make long speechs about the cattle or the breeder. Sims’ rapid, rhythmic chant speeded the events, pleasing both buyers and sellers.
“Ray found that the faster you sold them the more money they brought,” Van Dyke said. “He became the most imitated auctioneer in the business, and all the young auctioneers aspired to be like him.”