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SYLVIA JOYCE NICHOLS ALLEN - ESSEX JUNCTION - Fulfilling her mother's wish for a red-haired girl, Sylvia Joyce Nichols Allen, 65, was born Jan. 14, 1947, to Charles E. and Joyce E. Nichols of East Enosburg. Sylvia passed away peacefully in the Vermont Respite House on Jan. 9, 2013, after a valiant battle with cancer. Sylvia excelled at many things in life because of her high standards, intelligence, perseverance, and attention to details. She graduated from Enosburg Falls High School in 1965 as the valedictorian of her class and then attended Clemson University, Old Dominion, and Johnson State College, earning her degree in history and education. Sylvia tried several career paths, including the Peace Corps, classroom teacher, and dietitian at a Virginia children's hospital before working at the Dartmouth medical library, where she was inspired to earn her masters in library science at The University of Arizona. The major portion of her career was serving as director of the library and media center at Harwood Union High School in Duxbury. She formed many close friendships with her fellow teachers and especially with the students, several of whom she loved and nurtured as the children she never had. Many still maintained close ties with her even after her retirement in 2006. Her lifelong love of books, reading, and libraries prompted her to temporarily abandon her retirement to spend two years at the Frederick H. Tuttle Middle school in South Burlington before starting her small business of senior care and companionship. It was in her senior companion business that she cared for Charles Irish, a past president of the Vermont Transit Company (VTC), who in relating stories of the firm, inspired her to take on another life goal of authoring a book. Sylvia was so taken by the company's commitment to the public, and by its wonderful family of dedicated employees, she devoted the next two years researching and interviewing for her book The People Will Be Served, the first complete history of the company and its people. Sylvia was a voracious reader and loved music, birds, and nature; she was proud to have sung with Musica Propria and Bella Voce choruses. Sylvia married Michel Allen in 1991 and they resided in Essex Junction. Besides her parents, she was predeceased by her brothers, Donald Nichols of San Jose, Calif., Ralph Nichols of Andover, Ohio, and Ralph's son, Kevin. She is survived by her sister, Mary Lou Stanley of Hillsborough, N.C.; a brother, David Nichols and his wife, Diane, of Charlotte; nieces, Karen Grigg, Kristine Nichols and Krystle Nichols; nephews, Dan, Steve and Jeff Nichols; her aunt, Marion Scarborough and aunt and uncle, Eleanor and Len Aurand; and many cousins and friends. Our deep gratitude to Dr. Grunberg, Janet Ely and all the excellent, caring staff at FAHC and the Vermont Respite House in Williston. A memorial service and reception will be held at the First Congregational Church in Essex Junction on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at 2:30 p.m. Arrangements are in the care of the Ready Funeral & Cremation Service. To send online condolences to the family, please visit For those who wish to do so, contributions may be made in her memory to the Vermont Respite House or the Bella Voce Chorus.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Jan. 15, 2013
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