Friend, mentor and long-time Santa Barbara resident Syante (Sylvester, Chalchi) Villa passed peacefully on September 29th. Syante will be remembered for his kindness, his deep- wisdom and his sense of adventure and humor. He was a man of action who cared about people and lived by his principles. Sy was born in Los Angeles. California May 21, 1936. He attended local schools there including UCLA, where he earned a PHD. in Clinical Psychology Syante became an active participant in the Chicano Movement and was instrumental in creating three neighborhood healthcare clinics in the East Los Angeles area and was the director of the East Los Angeles Health Clinic. He was also part of a team of medical professional that developed a program to deliver healthcare to migrant workers and rural communities. For his contribution, Syante was received in ceremony and honored at the White House by then President Richard Nixon. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Santa Barbara Community Health Clinics. Sy served honorably in the U.S. Army in the late 1950’s to the sixties and was also a marathon runner who was selected to be on the U.S.Olympic track and field team for the City Of Los Angeles. Syante moved to Santa Barbara in the early 60’s where he lived on East Mountain Drive and was part of the bohemian/hippie culture that developed there. He loved playing his conga drums and was a part of the Banana Road/Adobe potluck/ Mountain drive scene.
When Monika and Syante met, they were attached at the hip. They married in 1995 the moved to Germany to be with Monica’s daughter, Katja for one year. Syante hated the cold but he was so sweet and patient regardless and endured it. He was so impressed by old rocks that represented 1,000 year old monuments. He gave us a new perspective on the Keltics and history. Not only was he highly intelligent and knowledgeable, he was open minded despite not speaking any German at all. Then in 1996 we went back to the U.S. and he was the most kind and loving grandfather to Katjas two children. Sy made the long trip to the high desert weekly to where Katja and her family relocated, then again to the central coast as well. He never once complained. He was simply a very patient and consistent presence in our lives and will live forever in our hearts.
Syante Villa married Monika Engelhardt on the Summer Solstice, 1995. They traveled together in Germany where he met his German family and lived with his new step-daughter, Katja in Heidelberg, where Monika worked as a teacher. Syante’s passion to study other cultures was expressed in his interest of the Celtic Culture. He also taught German youth about the Mayan Calendar and their symbols like Hunab Ku, the Giver of Movement and Measure. After the extraordinary cold winter that year they traveled from Germany to Spain for a Spring Break. Back to the U.S. they took care of their grandchildren, Julian and Hannah. Together they enjoyed the beautiful outdoors hiking and camping. This connection was a loving, lifelong bond until Syante’s passing. Besides long-distance running and drumming, Syante developed skills in painting and expressed his creativity not only in political art but also in colorful nature painting. No matter how clear his political viewpoint was, he never raised his voice to convince others of his own opinions. He was a soft spoken man ahead of his times. Sy was also an actor who played a native american in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and a shaman in Pinata Party. Syante is survived by a son, David Villa, Retired Colonel, U.S. Air Force; and by sisters Mariane and Patricia and by many nieces and nephews and grandchildren and is missed so much by his wife Monika and daughter, Katja, and Wonono Rubio.