Elaine Ruth Sylvester, 93, of Winchester, VA, passed away Thursday, August 5, 2021, peacefully at her home.
Elaine and her husband George H. Sylvester called the Shenandoah Valley home for many years after retiring from a 33-year career in the US Air Force. They had a farm in Basye where they raised llamas, chickens, and Elaine was a beekeeper. Both were deeply involved in the Shenandoah County community. In their final years together, they lived in Palm Beach Shores, Florida.
Elaine was born in 1927 in Brooklyn, NY, to Peter A. Winderling, Jr. and Ruth Gabrielsen Winderling. She graduated Roosevelt High School, Class of 1945 in Yonkers, NY and received her Associates Degree from Concordia College, Bronxville, NY.
Elaine married George H. Sylvester on June 7, 1949 on the day he graduated from West Point in NY. George preceded Elaine in death on March 2, 2015, after 66 happy years of marriage.
During their military years, Elaine moved with George 13 times to 12 different states. She was known for her can-do attitude, while raising three children, often alone. She embraced the life of an officer’s wife and was a mentor to younger wives as her husband rose to the rank of Lt. General.
Elaine was a faithful volunteer for many charitable, cultural and church organizations including Relay for Life, Hospice, Girl Scouts, and Seasiders. She was a lifelong learner, an avid reader and champion of any library wherever she lived. The Little Free Library in Palm Beach Shores bears a tribute to Elaine “the book lady” Sylvester.
Elaine was also a devoted student of history and served as a docent at the Smithsonian American History Museum, and the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach. Their worldwide travels were often to off-the-beaten path locations including Antarctica and Saudi Arabia, during the short time it was open to tourism.
Called “the Energizer Bunny” by family, Elaine rose early in the morning to take on the day. She worked tirelessly but also knew how to play. She got her private pilot’s license at age 50, snowmobiled through Yellowstone in her 70’s, and rode Space Mountain at 80. With a great sense of humor to the end, her advice for life was “Laugh”.
At home, she was an elegant and generous hostess, a gourmet cook, a birdwatcher and naturalist who carried a bag on her daily walks to pick up litter. She was ahead of her time in caring for the environment.
A lifelong Lutheran, Elaine was always active at her church and most recently, a member of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Winchester, VA.
Surviving are Elaine’s children, Wende Sylvester of Winchester, VA, Susan Hutchison and husband Andy of Seattle, WA and David G. Sylvester and wife Terry of Moraga, CA; brother, Peter D. Winderling and wife Cheryl of Tacoma, WA. Elaine was grandmother to six grandchildren and great grandmother to nine great grandchildren. She will always be a role model for how to live a healthy, happy life.
A service will be held on Wednesday, September 8 at 2pm at The Village at Orchard Ridge Chapel, Winchester. Burial will follow at West Point Military Cemetery, NY alongside her beloved husband George.