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Sylvia Jean was born Monday, May 19, 1947 at 3:02 in the afternoon to Harriet Marion Powell in Durham, NC. Growing up in Wadesboro, she was a loving big sister to her seven siblings, Sharon Colbert, Sing Crawford, affectionately known as “June”, Sherfield Hill, Harriet Marcella McNeil, Herbert Powell, Consuelo Rominski and Rosemary Powell. Family was always important to Sylvia. She spent much of her time running back and forth to her grandmother, Maggie Powell’s house lovingly known as “Muh”. There, Sylvia waited with bated breath for sardines with crackers and onions or a few quarters from Muh’s coin purse.
Sylvia was strong and a hard worker and often picked cotton and pressed hair to make money to attend school functions and help take care of the family. Sylvia graduated from J.R. Faison High School and later joined her friend, Patricia Hill in Brooklyn, NY and left Wadesboro behind, for the big city. In New York, Sylvia blossomed. With two little ones in tow, Marion Denise and Dennis ll, she became a Clinical Coder for Interfaith Medical Center and gave over 25 years of service, to the community the Lola Cuffee Family Health Center served. Sylvia fussed with her patients but loved them all, just the same. It was not uncommon for her to be out and about and be stopped two to three times by a familiar face, thanking her for all she had done to help them, at the clinic. While at the Lola Cuffee Family Health Center, Sylvia made life long friendships with coworkers, who inevitably became family, to her.
While busy living life with family and friends, Sylvia Jean met and fell in love with Wilbur McDonald, affectionately known as “Poppy”. They were wed on November 2, 1981.
In the years to come, her children, Marion and Dennis had children of their own and Sylvia discovered one of her most favorite roles in life, being a grandmother! Sylvia had always been known to be loving, kind and giving but when it came to her grandchildren she moved mountains, to see them happy and thriving.
With the beautiful heart she had, it is no wonder that she spent lots of time at her home church, First Calvary Baptist, located in Brooklyn, NY. While there, she once again made life long friendships and often prayed for and with family about their grievances.
In 2017, life took a sharp turn and Sylvia’s beloved, Poppy succumbed to cancer. Sylvia Jean herself, became a breast cancer survivor and remained cancer free. She was a fighter, through and through!
Shortly after becoming a breast cancer warrior, Sylvia relocated to High Point North Carolina and left behind the hustle and bustle of the city for a quieter but by no means dull, life. She was after all retired and would tell anyone who cared to listen that she no longer had to get up in the mornings and “go out there”! Finding a new church to attend, Sylvia found great joy in joining Mount Zion Baptist church, in High Point.
After moving to High Point, Sylvia Jean very quickly made friends. Her friend group was lovingly known as “the Golden Girls”. They went to plays, movies, dinners and concerts together and enjoyed laughing and living life with one another. They introduced her to the game Rummikub and she introduced it to her family members, who became hooked! A game of strategy, wit and concentration, Sylvia was hard to beat and she loved that!
Traveling to see loved ones, making quilts and pillows, mailing Christmas and birthday cards, going to church, making christenings and graduations, these were the things Sylvia enjoyed, because she so loved the family and friends she had. She made everyone feel special, it was her “thing”.
Sylvia Jean departed this life early Sunday, December 31, 2023 in her warm and always open home, to reunite with her great ancestors, including her beloved siblings, Sherfield Hill and Sing “June” Crawford.
Left to cherish her memory and celebrate the brilliance of her life-light are her children Marion Denise Powell and Dennis Powell (Lucille); grandchildren, Dashanique Carter (Lawrence), Kavon Coleman, Sierra Powell, Denzell Powell, Tindale Powell, Skyla Powell, Tyheem and Terrell Fluker; great grandchildren, Kamora and Nasir; sisters, Consuelo Rominski, Sharon Colbert (James), Harriet Marcella McNeil, and Betty Boggan; brother, Herbert Powell (Mia), nieces, Christina, Ivory, Maggie, Stephanie, Natesha, Brandy, Charity, Shannon “Boo”; nephews, Sterling, Shaune, Eric and Aaron; cousins, including Marie, Ruby, Lakeisha, and a host of loving friends and extended family.
A Celebration of Life will be given on Friday, January 5, 2024 at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 753 Washington Street, High Point. The family will receive visitors and friends from 11:30 to 12 noon. The service will start at 12 noon.