Cover photo for Kelley Ray Sims's Obituary
Kelley Ray Sims Profile Photo
1958 Kelley 2020

Kelley Ray Sims

July 2, 1958 — February 26, 2020

ALTO PASS - Kelley Ray Sims, 61, of Alto Pass IL, passed away on February 26, 2020, following an Alzheimer’s journey of over 8 years that was made rich and joyful through much music and unyielding golden friendships, connecting his community with love and generosity in ways that could not have been imagined.

Kelley was born July 2, 1958, in Marion IL. Through his passionate career as a respiratory therapist, patient advocate, teacher and member of the Southeast MO Hospital Lifebeat Helicopter crew, he touched countless hearts and lives. He was also a gifted musician and singer, playing guitar and mandolin and singing in Southern Illinois bluegrass bands. Kelley’s voice and musicianship will live on in a few treasured recordings. A staple of his life well-lived was the decades-long tradition of music jam sessions and amazing meals with picker friends and family at the kitchen table. At first appearing quiet and reserved, Kelley was a riveting storyteller with the “gift of gab”, and his hilarious and/or hair-raising tales will be retold by all who first heard them in person. He will be very much missed. So many dear friends in the music community will keep his spirit alive with every G run played and harmony sung.

His memory will be held close with his wife, Mila Maring-Sims (Alto Pass IL); his parents, Johnnie & Donna Sims (Marion IL); daughters, Emily Hudson (Kirk) (Phoenix AZ) & Maggie Barron (Neil) (San Diego CA); siblings, Tonda & Ray Huelsmann (Marion IL) and Farron & Jennifer Sims (Marion IL); grandchildren, Kallie, Peyton & Dylan Hudson; niece, Hillary Wing; and nephew, Zachary Sims, along with the many friends and colleagues from his work and his music.

A private service for family and close friends is planned, as well as a Celebration of Life which will no doubt be rich in good eats and homemade music.

Memorials may be made to Hospice of Southern Illinois, Angelina Foundation for Animal Welfare, or Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.

Meredith Funeral Home in Carbondale assisted the family with arrangements. To share a story or memory of Kelley visit

To order memorial trees in memory of Kelley Ray Sims, please visit our tree store.


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