Sylvia Griffin Atkinson
Published 9:20 am Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Sylvia Griffin Atkinson completed her long journey with Alzheimer’s Disease with gentle grace. Death occurred on September 19, 2022, at home with husband, Tim; their daughter, Sharma Staten; and Caregiver/”Soul Daughter”, Monica Hawkins at her bedside. Sylvia had resided in Lake City, Florida for the past 43 years.
Sylvia was born April 27, 1943, in Jacksonville, Florida. Her parents were Woodrow and Alma Marchant Griffin, stalwart members of the “Greatest Generation”. After her father’s return from service as a Marine in World War II, the family returned to their roots in Bainbridge, Georgia. Sylvia’s dad and Uncle James Floyd owned and operated Decatur Hardware; her mother worked as Assistant County Court Clerk; Aunt Verdie served daily sumptuous dinners for the family and was second mother to Sylvia. Her extended family and life-long friends, especially the Pritzls, Olives, and Cooks further enriched her life from early years to old age. Sylvia lived an idyllic childhood for which she was infinitely grateful.
When Sylvia and Tim were 13 years old, his family moved to Bainbridge. Throughout their 57-year marriage, Sylvia relished telling of their first meeting: “I was playing piano for Sunday School when he first came into the class. I took one look and knew that he was the one.” Tim took note of the pretty girl at the piano, but was totally clueless that this moment was the beginning of an epic love story.
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During her high school years, Sylvia excelled in academics, accompanied High School and church choirs and was an active member of First Baptist Church. She and Tim spent many happy times together in Bainbridge during their early teenage years.
After graduating high school with honors, Sylvia declined a scholarship at a prestigious college for women and enrolled at Valdosta State College. It was no coincidence that Tim would also attend Valdosta State. Sylvia again excelled in academics and was active in student life, especially the Baptist Student Union. Again, she graduated with honors.
The college years were joyful years for Sylvia and Tim. Hardly a day passed without their being together. First love matured into lasting love and they were married on December 29, 1964.
In the earlier years of their marriage, Sylvia and Tim enjoyed family gatherings at Uncle Own and Aunt Emmie Aultman’s farm. In later years Cousin Hilton Aultman and Margaret hosted
gatherings for cousins which were special events for Sylvia and Tim as well as their daughter and grandchildren.
Sylvia found her true vocation while working as secretary to the Librarian at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. For 25 years, she worked in libraries in Kentucky and Lake City, Florida. Sylvia was widely known as the helpful lady with the sweet smile at the front desk. She gave her smile, listening ear, and expertise to all. Sylvia especially enjoyed serving old veterans.
At the core of her being Sylvia was an intensely thankful person. She was gifted in expressing thanks and kindness especially to people who least expected it. She continued to demonstrate that gift until Alzheimer’s robbed her of too much of her cognitive and emotional capacity. She never saw a veteran without thanking him for his service. In a restaurant or grocery store, she never failed to approach parents with a baby or toddler with her signature greeting, “Oh, she/he is just adorable!” She left many folks, both friends and strangers, with smiles on their faces.
A reflection of Sylvia’s life is not complete without noting her love of “all creatures, great and small” especially felines. There was always at least one cat in the Atkinson household. Somehow, cats in need of a loving home knew where to come.
Tim and Sharma express sincere thanks to Caregivers and Hospice nurses who made it possible for Sylvia to spend her final years and days at home.
In addition to her husband, daughter, and grandchildren, Alexis; Chase; and Calista; Sylvia is survived by brother-in-law, David Atkinson; son-in-law, Jimmy Staten and his children, Jayden and Ashlyn Staten; and loving cousins and friends.
Sylvia was predeceased by her parents, all her aunts and uncles and several cousins, including Elwyn Aultman who was like a big brother to her.
Gateway-Forest Lawn Funeral Home, Lake City, is in charge of cremation. Sylvia’s ashes will be scattered at places special to her. These include the Magnolia tree in front of the Decatur County Court House which Sylvia’s mother helped plant as a Girl Scout a century ago.
Sylvia would be honored with donations to any organization that does good works. Among her favorites were The Nature Conservancy and UNICEF.
There are no funeral events planned at this time. Memorializing Sylvia can best be done through daily acts of kindness and thanks, especially to those who least expect it; and think of Sylvia.