Sylvia Marie Williams
She was born Sylvia Marie Williams to John and Dorothy Williams of Salisbury, North Carolina, a textile town in the state’s Piedmont region. She was the older of two girls in a family steeped in the traditions of the old south with many of her forebears having lived in Charleston and Aiken, South Carolina. Her mother spoke with a deep southern accent and was a member of the Children of The Confederacy as was Sylvia. Sylvia’s southern accent often brought taunts from her Long Island, New York neighbors, “Where You All From Honey Child”. She despised this.
She attended public schools in Salisbury, then, went on to graduate with high honors from St. Andrews Presbyterian College (then called Flora MacDonald College) in Laurinburg, NC, majoring in organ music. Later, she earned a Master’s Degree in organ music from Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, graduating summa cum laude.
Teaching music then became her passion as she went on to a 60 year career of music instruction in both public and private schools. She taught in the U.S. Military Dependents School System for several years with stints in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, Augsburg, Germany, and Ft. Benning, Georgia, She followed this up with jobs in Belmont, Massachusetts City Schools, Episcopal Day School (now USJ), and Harbor Country Day School in St. James, New York , where students sometimes came to school in chauffeur driven limousines. Sylvia wound up her career back in Jackson, Tennessee at Jackson Middle/Rose Hill Middle School. Then followed several years of substitute teaching in the Jackson-Madison County School System. She hardly went anywhere in Jackson without encountering former students who loved and adored her.
While teaching at Ft. Bragg, she met a young West Point Army captain named Ted Showalter. He soon went off to Vietnam, and she transferred to the U. S. Military School in Augsburg, Germany; however, they stayed in touch. When her father died, Sylvia came back to the States and Ft. Benning, Georgia, where Ted was now training troops headed to Vietnam. Soon, they were married in a beautiful military wedding at the post chapel.
Together, they raised two sons, Teddy and John; the family lived and worked happily in Jackson, and later in Hauppauge, Long Island, New York. Sylvia faithfully attended the First Presbyterian Church of Jackson where, during the 1970’s, she served as the interim organist and children’s choir director. Over the past twelve years, she has directed the church’s annual “Kirkin Of The Tartan” program which celebrates the Scottish heritage of the Presbyterian Church, and is widely attended by the Jackson community. The Wolf River Pipes and Drums of Memphis will honor her years of service with an appearance at her graveside ceremony. Sylvia is survived by her husband, Ted, and sons Ted Jr. of Collierville, Tennessee, and John of Southampton, England, plus three grandchildren Quinn Showalter, Sari Showalter, and Zeena Showalter.
Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, the family has chosen to have a private graveside service open only to invited family and friends. The First Presbyterian Church of Jackson will later schedule a memorial service when it is safe to do so.
In lieu of flowers, Sylvia requested that donations be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Jackson in support of “The Kirkin Of The Tartan” program.