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Sylvia Kalil

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Sylvia Kalil Obituary
KALIL, SYLVIA JEAN Sylvia Jean Kalil lost a long battle with COPD and departed this life on April 21st, 2014. She was born in Danbury, CT on October 10, 1946. Sylvia spent most of her growing up years on Elgin Avenue in Bethel. There she was the undisputed ring leader of a rag tag group of neighborhood kids who bore a striking resemblance to characters in “Our Gang”. The vacant hat factories, the parking lot of the old First National, and the playground at Grassy Plain School were settings for amazing hijinks and adventure – all under the creative direction of Sylvia. Those were the halcyon days of the 50s when kids played ringelivio in the twilight until called in by parents. Sports and play were at the heart of neighborhood life. After graduation from Bethel High School in 1964 and Sacred Heart University in 1968, Sylvia carried these themes into her life’s work as the Director of Parks and Recreation in both New Haven, CT and Somers, New York. In those roles, she brought joy and growth and happiness to children and to families. She multiplied the opportunities for girls and women to benefit from the life enhancing experiences of team and individual sports. Sylvia built many “Fields of Dreams” and the lives of countless people were enriched as a result. Being a loyal and supportive friend was one of the things Sylvia did best through all the decades of her life. Hers was the house that was always the gathering place; she was the one called when disaster struck; hers was the wallet that opened whenever someone was in need. Her heart knew no bounds when it came to the people she loved.Though she would not have characterized herself as a pioneer, Sylvia played the role of trailblazer numerous times throughout her life. During the 1960s when women’s sports had not yet been nurtured by Title IX, Bethel became well known for its perennially winning softball team, The Debutantes, or “Debs”. Sylvia was their all-star third baseman and inspirational leader. After her playing days were over, Sylvia stayed connected to the sport; first, as a coach of the New Haven Nutmegs, and later as the first woman umpire to be certified by the American Softball Association. Sylvia also broke new ground in her worklife while in New Haven; she was the driving and creative force behind the first New Haven Road Race, now a local tradition that has endured and grown for 37 years. Her passion also greatly expanded the scope of Special Olympics in southern Connecticut through the vibrant partnership she forged between that organization and the City of New Haven. Love of her family and her Lebanese heritage were central to Sylvia’s identity. She took enormous pride in the accomplishments of her nieces and nephews and her 93 year old mother, Jean Kalil was a source of abiding joy. Sylvia’s life was anchored by her 35 year relationship with life partner Kathy Lekis. They retired in 2004 and moved to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. There they made some wonderful new friends and loved the climate, golf, and proximity to Sylvia’s brother Tom and his family. With Sylvia’s passing, a bright light has gone out of our lives. But just possibly, we can find that light in the beautiful night skies that unify Connecticut, South Carolina, Massachusetts, New York and Florida where those of us left behind will look up and search for her. Among those mourning Sylvia’s loss are: Her mother, Jean Kalil, her brother Mike Kalil and his wife Robin; her sister Sue and her husband, Steve, all from Fort Meyers, Florida. Her brother Tom and his wife MaryGrace of Stafford,Virginia; several nieces and nephews, and many devoted friends. Sylvia was predeceased by her father, Lewis Kalil, and her life partner, Kathy Lekis. A memorial service to celebrate Sylvia’s life will be held on June 7 at 11 am at: The First Congregational Church, 120 Broad Street, Guilford, CT 06473. In her memory, donations may be made to; Saint Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105
Published in The New Haven Register on May 12, 2014
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