Beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, Sylvia passed away, at age 102, on Sept. 27, 2017 in Santa Barbara, CA. She was preceded in death by her husband Walter and her daughter Marjorie Antenore.
As the youngest daughter of George and Rachel Harrison of NYC, she started life a 2 lb. baby, in June 1915, for whom the doctor hesitated issuing a birth certificate. But her mother determinedly kept her at home in a warm shoebox and coaxed her toward the extraordinary life that Sylvia was to energetically inhabit for more than a century. Her family lived on the lower east side, Harlem and later the Bronx where Sylvia went to PS 42, and then Haaren High School in midtown Manhattan.
The Depression made it necessary for Sylvia and her sister to forego college and work after high school to help support their mother who was running the home as a boarding house after their father disappeared. She never complained about this because as she explained, many people were in the same situation. Growing up during those years informed her lifelong commitment to food charities, libraries, worker’s training programs, family planning groups and community involvement.
One of her favorite jobs was working at a hotel in the Catskills where she met her husband Walter. They had 2 daughters and remained in the Bronx until 1955 when Walter was offered a job as a design engineer for Hughes Aircraft in Culver City. Sylvia started her career as an executive assistant in the Audio Visual Department of the LA Unified School District, a position she enjoyed for 17 years until her retirement.
The couple moved to Santa Barbara in 1972, a city they loved and championed; they shared their home together until Walter passed away in 2002, aged 92, a marriage of 63 years.
Sylvia was an impassioned civic leader, an honored and outspoken member of many organizations and from 1980-2005 she was a vocal supporter of The Citizens Planning Association; a member of The Norbert and Charlotte Rieger Foundation, and a longtime member and librarian of her beloved Congregation B’nai B’rith, where she taught Sunday school among her other positions.
She opened her home to family, newcomers, and long-time friends, and gave unstintingly of her experiences, sharing her love of music, books and food. No one was more surprised than Sylvia when she fell in love, at age 95 with an exceptional man, Armando Quiros, who became a devoted friend for the last 6 years of his life.
Her lasting legacy, quoted extensively during her funeral service, was “all you need is love.”
She is survived by her daughter Nancy Donald of Santa Barbara, her grandsons Ethan Joshua Donald (Kelly Kozak) and Jonathan Antenore of San Francisco and Berkeley, and three great grandsons, as well as nieces and nephews in NY, CA, NC, and MD.
Donations in her name can be made to:
Congregation B’nai B’rith, Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara, The Norbert and Charlotte Rieger Foundation, Planned Parenthood.