Whatever she did, whatever organization she was with, Cathy Sim (née Rigby) gave everything.
The Vernon community booster died suddenly at home, Dec. 22, from an aneurysm at age 62.
“If she got involved in anything, she was all-in,” said her partner, Kris Eide. “She would become THE leader. She had a heart of gold. She loved everybody and never had a bad word to say about anybody.”
Born in North Vancouver, Sim and her family moved to Vernon when she was a toddler, and Sim never left.
She was a lifeguard for 25 years; heavily involved in Aqua Percept, a swimming program for people with diverse abilities; a softball coach with Special Olympics. She and Kris met through their involvement with Cub Scouts. Sim became a Cub leader when one of her daughters wanted to join Cubs instead of the Girl Guides.
Sim ran the Kids Zone at the popular Komasket Music Festival on Westside Road in the 2000s and Eide was the sound man for musical guests.
She was heavily involved with the Vernon Winter Carnival, particularly with the jopo and jopette program.
“She recruited me to play jopo,” laughed Eide, who couldn’t resist the chance to play the Carnival’s mascot.
“She has been in the Winter Carnival parade since the very first one,” said her mother, June Rigby, through Eide. “She was two-years-old and the band used to have a float in the parade. She was on it at the age of two and never missed a Carnival parade.”
The ‘band’ was the Vernon Girls Trumpet Band. Sim joined the legendary Vernon troupe at age seven and played snare drum. Five years later, she took a young cymbals-playing girl named Donna Knobel under her wing. Now married and known as Donna Cornell, the pair became lifelong friends.
“She made me feel welcome even though there was a five-year age difference,” said Cornell. She was my senior. I played the cymbals so I was in her section as she played the snare drum. And she played that drum better than anybody. I never saw anybody’s arms move so fast as Cathy’s when playing her drums.”
The pair were instrumental in forming the Vernon Girls Trumpet Band Alumni, which reunited for the 60th anniversary of Vernon Winter Carnival in 2020. The alumni is still practising and performing. One of Sim’s last interviews was in the dining room at Cornell’s Alexis Park area home on how the group was looking for a place to practice indoors for the winter. The band found a home in the Prestige Vernon Lodge ballrooms.
“I’ve never met anybody so community-minded,” said Cornell, wiping away tears. “This (death) is a big loss.”
Sim’s grandfather, Bob Hodgson, founded the Vernon Girls Trumpet Band in 1947, 13 years before the first Vernon Winter Carnival in 1960.
Sim and Eide were supposed to be married on Oct. 10, 2020 – 10-10-20, signifying two becoming as one – but COVID postponed those plans. The wedding was rescheduled for Feb. 2, 2022 but B.C. road closures scuttled those plans. The pair moved the wedding to Sept. 22, 2022 with the 2s continuing to line up.
Sim is survived by her partner, Kris; her mom, June; children Jasmine, Riley and Jade; Kris’ son, Mateo; brothers Tony and Randy. She was predeceased by her father, Carle, in August 2021.
A Celebration of Life for Cathy and her father is slated for Saturday, June 19, at Polson Park. The Vernon Girls Trumpet Band Alumni will play.
Carle spent countless hours of volunteering with the band. He was known as ‘Mr. Vernon Girls Trumpet Band’. He received Vernon Winter Carnival’s highest honour, the Order of Jopo (2006), as well as the Jessie Ferguson Memorial Trophy (1997), for his many years of volunteer service.