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Nancy Burke Sylva


1940 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Nancy Burke Sylva
October 10, 1940 - May 11, 2018
Resident of Campbell
Artistic and Creative. Clever and Wickedly Witty. Brave and Independent. Loyal. Loving. Strong. Nancy Burke Sylva, born in Stockton, California to Wadenia Mae Burke (Hudson) and Carl Frank Burke of Tracy, California, was all of these things to her family and friends who love her.
She spent her formative years attending public schools in Tracy and summers surrounded by redwood and sugar pine trees at the family cabin in Hathaway Pines. After she graduated from Tracy Joint Union High School in 1958, she married David Rees Sylva, whom she met when she was 8 and he was 12 years old.
As young newlyweds, the couple moved to San Jose and Nancy graduated from San Jose State University where she earned her bachelor's degree in three years. After graduation, Nancy taught in the Cupertino School District at Eisenhauer School to support the couple, while David attended law school at Santa Clara University and worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Nancy became passionate about art during college. Throughout her life she took a number of art courses including color, design, and art history which enhanced her natural talent to create beauty in every art modality she attempted, from designing an addition to the family home, to interior decorating, fine art painting, creating wax resist sculpture and metal work jewelry, dyeing, assembling textile arts, and weaving, silk screening, sewing, designing costume arts, and fabricating stained glass. She shared her love for art and art history with her children, others' children, while working as a volunteer docent with the San Jose Museum of Art, and ultimately, with her grandsons.
Her passion for art and art history led her to travel the world, where she sought local artisans. On her own she braved the jungles of Peru during a revolt in search of dyes and textile know-how and ventured to Egypt to witness the mysteries of the Sphinx. She explored the temples of Thailand and the villages in Oaxaca, Mexico with her husband. She studied in Hong Kong and relished visiting the art museums and street markets of Europe. After the girls entered college, she explored Southeast Asia with her friend Ruth Ann Moore. She loved family trips to the beach and the mountains, and especially delighted in sharing the joys of these places with her family.
At age 48, looking for something to do at a time when many make plans for retirement, Nancy started law school at Santa Clara University. She graduated, passed the bar, hung a shingle alongside her husband for ten years, and practiced family law. She was a past president and proud member of the San Jose Art History Club, which she enjoyed tremendously as it afforded her the opportunity to socialize with intelligent women of culture. She was an avid reader and dedicated book club member. In later years, she took pleasure in traveling with friends to Lake Tahoe, Alaska, and the Panama Canal.
Nancy was predeceased by her parents. She is survived by her husband of sixty years, David, her daughters Julianne Sylva (Scott) and Jennifer Burke Sylva, her two grandsons, John David Savage and Nicholas Carlsen Savage, her sister-in-law Kelly McDonald (Larry) and her nephew, Jeffrey McDonald.
Her memorial will be held at the family residence on May 20, 2018, from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. All whose lives she has touched are welcome to attend and share in our celebration of her life. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Nancy's name to the Artful Discoveries Program, Fine Arts Museum of SF, c/o Director of Education, de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, SF, CA 94117, or the Fun Times Singers, c/o Treasurer, P.O. Box 2972, Saratoga, CA 95070.


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Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on May 15, 2018
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