Joan Simms, 68, Baltimore City schoolteacher

November 07, 2005

Joan Simms, a retired Baltimore schoolteacher and coupon collector, died of lung cancer Oct. 31 at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The Parkville resident was 68.

Born Joan Atkinson in Baltimore, she graduated from Eastern High School. She attended what is now Towson University, where she earned her bachelor's degree. She also earned a master's degree in education from the university.

Ms. Simms taught for more than 25 years in elementary and intermediate schools in Baltimore.

Known as the "Trash Lady," she collected hundreds of package labels, boxes, soap wrappers, soda can liners and cash register tapes, and sent them in to the manufacturers for cash and gifts.

In a 1979 article in The Sun, Ms. Simms said she received more than $3,000 in a three-year period.

Her refunding success became so well known that friends would give her soap wrappers and register tapes and in return she would hand out gifts from the rebates.

"She would give everybody toothbrushes, gum and cereal, and it did not have the label or the CDC on it because she already sent that in for a rebate," said her son John "Butch" Simms Jr. of White Hall. "Every Christmas, we all got a `trash present' of something she sent in for, from signature baseballs to Disney stuff."

Ms. Simms enjoyed sewing - anything from suits to blankets - and playing bridge. After receiving her cancer diagnosis, she went on as many cruises as possible, family members said.

A funeral service was held Saturday.

In addition to her son, she is survived by another son, Craig Walters of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; two grandchildren; and her companion of 21 years, Walter Williams of Parkville. Her marriage to John E. Simms Sr. ended in divorce.

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