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Ag visionary Dick Symms mourned

obisaRichard (Dick) Allen Symms, a visionary in the agriculture business, died July 13. He was 84. Mr. Symms led Symms Fruit Ranch into the largest fruit company in Idaho and one of the top 25 fruit companies in the United States. He grew Ste Chapelle Winery into the second-largest winery in the Northwest.

Born to G. Darwin and Irene Knowlton Symms in Nampa, ID, Mr. Symms attended a two room school-house in Sunny Slope, ID, 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 bachelor's degree 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 Malone from Weslaco, TX, that same year.

They settled in Caldwell, ID, and Mr. Symms worked in the family business, Symms Fruit Ranch, and Nancy managed their household with their three children, Mary, Dar and David. An avid and excellent pilot with commercial and instrument licenses, Mr. Symms flew all over the US in his Cesna visiting growers and buyers, selling fruit and wine. He 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.

Mr. Symms was a leader in the farming industry and served on many committees in local, regional and federal 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 & Vegetable Association, Apple Commission, Cherry Commission, NW 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.

Mr. Symms had many wonderful friends. He loved taking them sturgeon fishing where the catch could be up to 10 feet long. Mr. Symms 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 judgement, priorities, perseverance, and a sense of humor. He describes the importance of saying goodbye to friends and he was renowned for his letters where 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. Mr. Symms 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.

Mr. Symms 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 friends.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to The Hope House in Marsing and Deer Flat Church in Caldwell.

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