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Sylva Ian Ripplinger Driscoll

Sylva Ian Ripplinger Driscoll

Sylva Ian Driscoll, beloved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, died peacefully at the age of 89 on October 14, 2011, at her daughter's home in Seattle, Washington. All of her children were by her side. One year later, Sylva's energy, spirit, and love of life are as missed as on the day we lost her. We are so grateful to have had her in our lives.

Sylva was born in Santa Monica, California, the only child of Leo Ripplinger, a conductor on the Northern Pacific Railroad, and Ann Savage, who'd once taught in a one room school-house. Growing up in Ellensburg, Washington, Sylva was most comfortable in a buckskin jacket and cowboy boots (when she wasn't braving the currents to swim in the Columbia River). After graduating from Pasco High School, she entered Eastern Washington Teacher's College, later transferring to the University of Washington. When war broke out in 1941, she immediately enlisted in the Women's Ambulance Corps and was soon transferred to the Women's Army Corps. She enrolled in Officer's Candidate School, became a 2nd Lieutenant, and worked at several military bases on the East coast.

After her discharge from the Army, she returned to Pasco, where she met and married Matthew (Matt) Lawrence Driscoll, a WWII veteran who had spent two years in a German prison camp. The family, which now included daughter Kathleen, moved to Spokane where sons Matthew and Patrick were born. After Matt Sr. earned his law degree, the family moved to Seattle. While raising her brood in a house near Green Lake, Sylva completed her teaching degree at the University of Washington. She taught 4th and 5th grade art and science at Lafayette Elementary for many years. A talented painter and designer, with boundless curiosity, she spent many happy hours dreaming up inventive ways of engaging her young students.

Nearing retirement, Matt and Sylva moved to a townhouse in Bellevue, where she became the community's green thumb and volunteer groundskeeper. After Matt's death, Sylva moved back to Seattle. She took up residence in a little house next door to one of her sons, where she was to live independently for the rest of her life.

Sylva enjoyed daily visits with her children, but she was an adventurer who loved to travel. She visited Europe and the British Isles with her family in her 50's and 60's, Australia and Africa in her 70's, and right after 9/11, she flew to Disneyland for her 80th birthday. Her last major trip was a trek to China with a dear friend, as she was determined to see the Yangtze before it was diverted.

Sylva always placed the needs of others above her own, taking a keen interest in every family member. She loved the holidays that would bring her clan together, and delighted in the company of the two great-grandsons who called her "G.G." Her friends were also of paramount importance to her, and she made time for them up until the end; her last outing with treasured friends was only a few weeks before her passing. Sylva's love for all living things - from the plants that always thrived in her care, to the animals she loved to study, paint and photograph, to her friends and family -- was inspiring. She loved nature, and everything in it. Always looking to the future and hopeful that she might improve the lives of those around her, she generously contributed to a wide variety of charities and causes.

Sylva was preceded in death by her parents, Leo and Ann Ripplinger, her husband, Matthew, her beloved great aunt Florence Brownlee, and a cherished daughter-in-law, Willie Mae Driscoll. She is survived by her daughter Kathy Schaeffer (Jim), sons Matt (Marleigh), and Patrick, her grandchildren Molly (Doug), Donovan, Kevin, and Meghan (Mark), and great grandsons Nolan and Greyson.

Published in The Seattle Times on Oct. 14, 2012
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