Sylvia Pence Gatzy, 80, passed away peacefully at home in rural Chapel Hill surrounded by her family on July 2, 2015. Born and raised in northwest Pennsylvania, Sylvia was a graduate of New Bethlehem High School and Penn State University; she lived in Chapel Hill since 1973. Sylvia's love for nature and gardening, flower design, art, crafts, sewing, pottery, tennis, bicycling, cooking, and music survive in her children and husband. She generously shared her skills and enthusiasm as a revered mentor to members of several Chapel Hill organizations. Nurturing her family was her passion.
She is survived by her devoted husband of 57 years, John Gatzy; three daughters and their spouses: Lori and Barry Rochelle, Linda and Marc Vassallo, and Susan and Paul Morton; three grandchildren: Samuel Rochelle, Nicholas Vassallo, and Abigail Morton; and four sisters: Joanne Sullivan, Patty Welch, Joyce Pence, and Eva Jane Whitbeck.
The family would like to express heartfelt gratitude to the small army of professionals and friends who cared for and inspired Sylvia and her family throughout the 15 years of her recovery from two hemorrhagic strokes. Special thanks to Feldenkrais practitioners Diana Griffin, Chris Hagenberger, and Keith Johnson (also designer of custom communication); speech therapist Stephanie McAdams; three generations of exceptional caregivers: Pearl Cole, Kim Lynn, and Kim Jackson; UNC Palliative Care and Hospice; the nurses and doctors of UNC Neurosurgery, Neurology, and Medical Intensive Care Unit; devoted friend and reader Roberta Copeland; and John's dedicated colleagues: Drs. James Yankaskas and Mike Knowles.
A memorial service is planned at 5621 NC Highway 54 West, Chapel Hill, on Saturday, July 11, at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, or Ambucs/Amtryke (search “Recumbent Rehabilitation Rush” on youtube.com).