Sylvia Phillips Vance, Class of 1947

Posted Apr 01, 2022

Sylvia Phillips Vance ’47 died Jan. 29, 2022. Born Dec. 24, 1925 in New Britain, CT to the late Edna Miller Phillips and Vernon Phillips. Sylvia attended Otterbein College, rooming with her dear cousin Janet Roberts ’46. Her ties to Otterbein ran deep. Great grandfather John Haywood and great grandmother Sylvia Carpenter Haywood were early professors at Otterbein.

Sylvia worked as a waitress at Williams Grill in Westerville, where she met Waid Vance ‘47 (with a little matchmaking help from his father Floyd Vance ‘16, also a lifelong pillar of Otterbein). In 1947, she was named the Otterbein Centennial Queen. Sylvia was in the Sigma Alpha Tau (Owls) sorority and Quiz & Quill at Otterbein also. She started teaching during her senior year at Otterbein. Sylvia began her fulltime teaching career at Otterbein, 1961-1991. During her tenure at Otterbein, she helped create text for language teaching films, earned her MA and PhD (1980) in French Literature from OSU, chaired the Integrative Studies Department from 1981 to 1987, and served as the first Director of Humanities Programs, implementing activities funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant, which she helped secure in 1984. Her interest in the memoirs of the seventeenth-century French Cardinal de Retz began with her dissertation work and continued through retirement years, when her book, The Memoirs of the Cardinal de Retz was published in 2005. Sylvia loved teaching, literature, books, the 17th century, time spent with close friends, chocolate, the color green, travel, and football. She also loved gardening, considering herself lucky to have a nice plot she could plant at Friendship Village. She was a member of the Child Conservation League, Discussion Group (a lifelong collection of dear friends), United Methodist Women, AAUW, the Westerville Historical Society, The New Century Club, and UM Church of the Master.

Surviving family members are daughters Mary (Valerie Mitrione) and Sara (Jenny Morgan), cousin Richard Roberts (Monica), brother-in-law Robert Floyd Vance ’49 (Evelyn); nephews, nieces, and more. Preceded in death by husband Waid ’47, son Robert Lee, half-brother Vernon Lee Phillips ’62, and cousins Edna Roberts Rudy ’49, Janet Roberts ’46, Charles Roberts ‘49, Ed Roberts, and Eileen Wanders.