Richard "Dick" Allen Symms, a leader of the Idaho fruit and wine industries, died July 13, 2020. He was 84.
He was born Nov. 22, 1935, to G. Darwin and Irene Knowlton Symms in Nampa, Idaho.
Dick attended a two-room school in Sunny Slope, Idaho, and graduated from Marsing High School in 1953. He received a football scholarship to the University of Idaho and was a proud member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity — a family tradition.
After graduating in 1957 with a B.A. in political science and a minor in history, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and took navigation training in southern Texas, where he met Nancy Malone.
Stationed in Prestwick, Scotland, he served on active duty in a search-and-rescue squadron for 2.5 years. Honorably discharged in 1961, he married Nancy Malone from Weslaco, Texas, that same year.
They settled in Caldwell, Idaho, and Dick worked in the family business, Symms Fruit Ranch, and Nancy managed their household with their 3 children, Mary, Dar and David.
Dick was a visionary in the agriculture business. He led Symms Fruit Ranch to become the largest fruit company in Idaho and one of the top 25 fruit companies in the U.S. He grew Ste Chapelle Winery into the second largest winery in the Northwest.
An avid and excellent pilot with commercial and instrument licenses, Dick flew all over the U.S. in his Cesna visiting growers and buyers, selling fruit and wine.
Dick started the company's export business, shipping directly to over 35 countries in Europe and Asia. He traveled to over 50 countries for pleasure and business.
He also co-owned Sprinkler Irrigation in Nampa.
Dick was a leader in the farming industry and served on many committees in local, regional and national organizations. He served as president, director or other leadership position in the Marsing Chamber of Commerce, Caldwell Chamber of Commerce, Marsing Disaster Auction, Owyhee County Museum, Idaho Horticulture Society, Idaho-Oregon Fruit and Vegetable Association, Apple Commission, Cherry Commission, Northwest Horticulture Council, U.S.A. Agriculture Advisory Board, Idaho First National Bank, West One Bank, US Bank, Intermountain Community Bank, the Presbyterian Church and the Presbytery Council.
Dick had many wonderful friends. He loved taking them sturgeon fishing, where the catch could be up to 10 feet long.
He also wrote a book, "Symms Sunny Slope: The Life and Times of the Symms Family," to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Symms Fruit Ranch.
In the book, he shared his six principles for living: integrity, moral courage, good judgment, priorities, perseverance and a sense of humor. He describes the importance of saying goodbye to friends and he was renowned for his letters in which he thanked people for all they had done to make the world a better place. His book ends with three things one should do in life: Plant a tree, have children and write a book.
Dick touched many people’s hearts throughout his life — family, work colleagues, school friends, fellow parishioners and clients. They all benefited from his wisdom and instruction. We are all better people for his caring, devotion, and friendship.
Dick is survived by his wife, Nancy Malone Symms; children, Mary Symms-Pollot (Mark – Katherine, McLeod), G Dar Symms (Jodi – Richard, Eva, Thomas) and David Malone Symms (Adriana – Matthew, Sophia, Patrick); step-grandchildren Christopher, Daniela and Samuel; sister Ginger Kleweno (Gil); brother Steve Symms (Loretta); and many cousins, nieces, nephews and fabulous friends.
A graveside service will be Friday, July 17, at 11 a.m. at Canyon Hill Cemetery in Caldwell, Idaho. The service will broadcast live on Zoom. Go to Dakan Funeral Chapel's website dakanfuneralchapel.com for the link.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to The Hope House in Marsing and Deer Flat Church in Caldwell.