Yolanda “Yonnie” (Colabrese) Sims of Charles Town, WV, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and aunt passed away on Saturday, July 3, 2021, at the Hospice of the Panhandle Inpatient Facility surrounded by family members harmonizing on some of her favorite songs. Yonnie, the daughter of the late Frank and Antoinetta (Sciullo) Colabrese of Douglas, WV, was born on March 7, 1928. She loved growing up in her West Virginia hills and singing with her sisters at community and church functions throughout Tucker County.
A 1945 graduate of Thomas High School and member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Yonnie worked at the family’s Colabrese Brothers Hardware Store in Thomas before attending Potomac State College where she earned her teaching certificate, and was the female soloist for the Potomac State Singers. After Yonnie married Kenneth on March 31, 1951, they headed to Folkston, GA, where she taught Fourth Grade, and performed songs at many civic and church functions. After their move to Green Bank, WV, Yonnie focused on being a homemaker and raising her young family. The family relocated to Charles Town in 1961 and she became a devoted member of St. James Roman Catholic Parish. She was a soloist at masses, taught catechism classes, served in various officer positions in the Women’s Club, and joined the choirs. (A highlight of her life was singing for the Pope during the choir’s 2008 tour of Italy when she was 80.) She worked part-time as a clerk for several years at Van Tol’s Hallmark Shop. Yonnie was proud to have been a member of the cast of “My Fair Lady” when the Old Opera House first reopened its doors. She worked tirelessly supporting her husband with many Charles Town Lions Club activities and singing at their banquets. As a homeroom parent, chaperone, and booster, she lovingly encouraged her daughters and granddaughters in all their endeavors at school, 4-H, scouting, church, and theater.
Yonnie especially enjoyed the twenty-three years she spent volunteering at Ranson Elementary School working on computer and reading skills with students with special needs in her daughter’s classroom, reading aloud to other classes, and partnering with several students through the PASS program. However, Yonnie’s greatest joys came from spending time with her family putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing games, rooting on the Mountaineers, singing songs or cooking family favorites.
Yonnie is survived by daughters Kathy Sims and partner Mike Wiltshire, and Bett Sims of Charles Town, WV; Barbara Harman and husband Bill of Kearneysville, WV; granddaughters Greta Harman and husband Matt Spencer of Silver Spring, MD; and Chloe Harman and fiancé Caleb Hutzler of Jefferson County, WV; great-grandson, Otto Spencer; close family friends Nancy Broadley, Stan Hawrot, and Marge and Archie Smith.
In addition to her parents, Yonnie was preceded in death by her husband of 69 years, Kenneth H. Sims; her precious seventeen-month-old son, Kenneth H. Sims, II; siblings Gloria Vandendriessche, Eleanor Golladay, Elviera Maphis, and John, Lucy, Bill, Alfonso, Barbara, and Frances Colabrese.
The family would like to express our gratitude to the women who helped us care for our Mom-Nonnie-Yonnie with amazing kindness: Glenna, Susie, Kelly, Katie, Cheri, Tammy, Linda; and the nurses, aides, social workers, and doctors of Hospice of the Panhandle, particularly Nurse Carrie whose support was invaluable.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. at St. James the Greater Roman Catholic Church, 49 Crosswinds Drive, Charles Town, WV. This will be preceded by praying the Rosary at 1:00 p.m. near the baptismal font in the church. Family graveside rites will be on Thursday at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Thomas, WV.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Yolanda “Yonnie” Sims may be made to Hospice of the Panhandle 330 Hospice Lane, Kearneysville, WV 25430 and to St. James Roman Catholic Church 49 Crosswinds Drive, Charles Town, WV 25414.