Sylvia Phelps (1950 - 2008)

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Sylvia Gibson Phelps, 58, died Nov. 8, 2008, at the Phelps family's home in Paradise Valley. After a 19-month struggle with brain cancer, Sylvie passed away while surrounded by her family.

Sylvie was born a "preacher's kid" in Glendale, Calif., on Sept. 14, 1950. She was the youngest daughter of Phil and Ruby Gibson, founders of Village Church in Burbank and Village School, now located in Sun Valley.

After graduating Burroughs High School in Burbank, Calif., Sylvie attended Cal Lutheran, the Defense Language Institute/Monterey and Cal State Northridge, where she received her bachelor's degree in French.

She met Joe Phelps when they were team members on the Honda account at Grey Advertising in Los Angeles in 1979. She later became the alumni director for the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif.

Sylvie married Joe in 1982 and became a founding director of The Phelps Group, Los Angeles' second oldest and one of California's leading marketing communication companies. For years, while raising their two children, Douglas and Emilie, she held various positions in the agency, including those of accountant, proofreader and mentor to many young mothers over the years. A staunch conservationist, she led the agency's sustainability drive that included its investment in solar power. The solar energy system installed on the agency's building at 901 Wilshire accounted for 70 percent of the commercial solar panels installed in Santa Monica last year.

In 2005, with the intention of keeping horses and fly fishing frequently, Sylvie and Joe finished their home in Paradise Valley that they call Rancho Relaxo.

Sylvie was a mom who sewed whatever Halloween costumes her kids imagined, made dinner from scratch every night and would go to any lengths to support her kids' dreams. She was a linguist, antique collector, violist with the Santa Monica Orchestra, and a certified CASA (court appointed special advocate) for children going through the court system in LA County.

Who you are shows in the things you love. Sylvie loved romantic comedies, the viola, bicycling to work, big dogs, small dogs if big dogs weren't available, the grace, smell and thunder of horses, clients who pay on time, good grammar, proper punctuation, the Palmer Method of handwriting, the lilt of French, Shaker furniture, subtle humor, her numerous collections of little old things, blue jeans and Montana. Above all, she loved her family and friends.

Her favorite saying was by John Wesley: "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." Sylvie did just that.

Sylvie is survived by her husband, Joe; daughter, Emilie; son, Douglas; sister, Susan Jacob; cousin, Doug Jeffrey; seven nephews and seven nieces.

Condolences to the family may be sent to

Memorial contributions may be sent to UCLA Brain Cancer Research, c/o T. Cloughesy, M.D., 710 Westwood Plaza Suite 1-230, Los Angeles, CA 90095.

A memorial gathering will be scheduled for January.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Nov. 13, 2008
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