September 28, 1928 - October 14, 2019
Sylvia Elaine Nilson Meyer was born on September 28, 1928, in Talas, a small town in the middle of Turkey. Her parents, both from Illinois, had themselves met serving in Turkey serving through the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), a predecessor mission body of Global Ministries.
Sylvia's own schooling took place in various places and in various ways: at home in Talas, at the American Community School in Beirut, Lebanon, and at the British High school in Istanbul. At the age of fifteen, she earned her high school degree.
When the family was evacuated during World War II, Sylvia attended Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, where she graduated with a B.A. in 1949. She was then commissioned to serve a three-year term as a teacher in a school for Armenian girls in Aleppo, Syria. While serving in Syria, Sylvia spent part of a summer working at a camp in France organized by the World Council of Churches. Another participant at this camp was a German man, Johannes (Hans) Meyer; the two met and eventually married on June 9, 1953, in Wheaton, IL. After serving in Syria, Sylvia returned to the United States and enrolled at Syracuse University.
Soon after their marriage, Sylvia and Hans were commissioned to serve in Istanbul, Turkey, as teachers at a girl’s school. After two years of teaching in Istanbul, Sylvia and Hans were sent to a school for boys in Tarsus, on the southern coast of Turkey, where they taught for 16 years, before returning to the school in Istanbul.
After the last of their children graduated from high school in Istanbul and departed for further education, Hans and Sylvia returned to Tarsus to teach and later stayed on there after their retirement for more than ten years. In November 2004, they moved to Greenville SC, for health considerations and on the invitation of their youngest son Armin, who lives there. Some years later, with health declining and dementia progressing, Sylvia was moved to the Rolling Green Village in Greenville, SC.
Sylvia loved teaching. For more than thirty years, she taught English, translation, and music in schools, and gave private piano lessons to many people. Sylvia also felt that music was a great way to communicate God‘s word. She sang in the church choir of the English-speaking Protestant church in Istanbul, and played the organ in that church as well as in the German-speaking Protestant church in Istanbul. Sylvia was a great accompanist on the piano, in formal settings such as church services, but also at home, on occasions like singing Christmas carols together as a family.
Sylvia was greatly dedicated to the movement of the Women's World Day of Prayer, celebrated every year in March as a global ecumenical movement dating back to the 19th century, led by Christian women who join in prayer and action for peace and justice in the world. Sylvia was greatly involved in organizing the services in Istanbul.
Another major area of involvement for Sylvia was Community Crafts, an activity in Istanbul that organizes and supports handcrafted work by Turkish women and the sale of their products.
Sylvia strongly believed all people are good at heart no matter their religion, race or nationality or what paths they might have followed in their life, she believed that each person has dignity simply because they are God‘s creation. She believed in a loving God, and had great affection for all God‘s people. She spread God‘s love not so much through words, but through her life and deeds.
Sylvia is survived by her husband Hans, their daughter Helene, three sons Christoph, Markus, and Armin, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
A memorial service for Sylvia was held on October 27, 2019, at Rolling Green Village. Condolences may be sent to Dr. Armin Meyer, 115 Oak Place, Greer, SC 29650 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Memorial contributions may be made to Doctors Without Borders.