Mary "Syl" Sylvia Szeker

June 3, 1938 ~ September 23, 2022 (age 84) 84 Years Old
Read more about the life story of Mary "Syl" and share your memory.    




Mary Sylvia Szeker

Born June 3, 1938, to Harold LaRue Brown and Margaret Perrin Brown in Poughkeepsie, New York, Mary Sylvia, affectionately known as “Syl”, grew up in Pawling, New York.  She graduated from Dover Plains High School in 1956.

She went on to receive a beautician license from Wilfred Academy in 1958. Soon after, she owned a beauty shop called Up-to-Date Salon in Sherburne, New York.

During this time, she met the love of her life, John Paul Szeker, on a train as she traveled to Wilfred Academy. They became engaged, and after a two-year engagement, they wed each other on February 20, 1960, at Saint John’s Church in Pawling, New York. Father Adrian Storm officiated.

Syl and John moved to Yonkers, New York where Syl leased a spot in a salon. She had her first daughter, Margaret Mary “Margie”, in 1961.

The three moved to Alexandria, Virginia and became four with the birth of her second daughter, Kim Theresa, in 1962.

In 1963, the four moved to San Jose, California where Karen Mary Louise was born in 1964.

The family of five moved within Los Gatos, California and had their final child, Marianne Christina “Mimi”, in 1967.

Syl went back to school while raising four children, receiving an Associates of Arts degree from West Valley College in 1973. Syl then continued her education and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education, focusing on Special Education in 1976 from San Jose State University.

Syl had a long career as a teacher for children with learning disabilities, autism, and social disabilities. She retired in 1990 and became a substitute teacher for several school districts in a regular school environment for all age groups. Syl retired completely from teaching in 2003.

Syl and John moved several times, building beautiful homes in California as well as in North Carolina. In 2018, they survived the Paradise Camp Fire, but lost their home to it. They eventually moved back to Paradise in 2022.

Syl passed into eternity to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on September 23, 2022. She is survived by her husband of 62 wonderful years, John Paul Szeker; her daughter Margie Birdsong, granddaughter Amber Luna, great-grandchildren Jaymi, Bryce, and Chris Jr., and grandson Aaron Schultz; daughter Kim Rogers, grandchildren Jessica, Lindsay, Rachael, and Elijah Rogers; daughter Karen Nelson and granddaughter Mariah Nelson; daughter Mimi Pearson, grandchildren Gwen and Evan Pearson; and brothers Robert “Bob” Brown and Kevin Brown.

Her Celebration of Life Ceremony was held on October 8, 2022, at Ridge Lifeline Church in Paradise, California. She was interred at Paradise Cemetery in Paradise, California on October 7, 2022.

The following are the eulogies that Syl’s daughters shared at her ceremony:

Margie Birdsong’s Eulogy for Syl Szeker


When I think of Mom, I see a huge heart, and a mighty prayer warrior.

She believed strongly in the great commission, and that this begins with those closest to us-our own family. She didn’t want to go home to Heaven until all her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren knew Jesus.

She was sophisticated, with good old-fashioned morals.  She taught us right and wrong.  How to match our clothes with our shoes, jewelry, and purses.  She was also our beautician; she would cut all our hair!  No one can feather hair like Mom.

Mom would always share her advice and opinion whether or not you asked.  She was often misunderstood, and most of the time she ended up being correct on the matter!

She loved Jesus, her husband, her entire family, along with her church families, and her dog.  She loved to go camping near the water.  She loved square dancing with my Dad.  She was fond of Elvis Presley, collected butterflies, hummingbirds, owls , bells, and… oh…. yes Turtles!!  Let me tell you about the turtles.  On our long drives to visit her Mom in Arizona, she would often spot a turtle on the side of the road.  She’d say “John, I saw a turtle, you gotta go back and get it”!!  Dad would often end up walking ½ mile or more back down the road to find yet another piece of a blown-out tire!

Oh-She loved to pull pranks and had a very teasing sense of humor.  For instance, one Saint Patrick’s Day, when Dad didn’t take her out to dinner, she proceeded to dye all the food and drinks Green!!!

Mom, The original Seat Belt!  “Hold on Kids”….   1, 2, 3, 4, thank the Lord I got no more.

She was the planner, instigating and organizing our get togethers.  If you needed to catch up on someone in the family, just ask Mom, she always kept track of her girls.  She’d always say, “Only your hairdresser knows for sure!”

I will miss Mom, we all will.  There is no one else like her.  Will miss her fun-loving spirit, her cliché sayings, and most of all her prayers that have released angel armies and drawn us all closer to our Heavenly Father.  It is now up to each of us to keep the faith and prayers for each other going.  Until we meet again one fine day.  I love you, Mom.

Kim Rogers’s Eulogy for Syl Szeker



“And now abide faith, hope, love,

These three,

But the greatest of these is love….”


I’ve been thinking a lot about love after watching such a great example in my parents’ relationship. I am eternally grateful for having been blessed to witness this love in action over the last month of my mother’s life on earth. My parents listened to each other and respected each other’s thoughts in the most difficult season of their lives. Many hard choices had to be made and my dad made sure that my mom was a part of every single one to the very last in getting her home to be with dad, their dog Gigi and surrounded by the deep love of family.

My mom had a special smile for Dad, and she lit up every time Dad walked in the room. He kissed her each time on the lips and told her that he loved her. Their love is eternal…. No question.

Love is beautiful. Love is the greatest of all. Love never ends.

I asked the Lord the other day about love. I asked what He meant in 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three. But the greatest of these is love.”

 I asked Him to explain what makes LOVE the greatest because all three are necessary in this world. We need faith to trust Him. We need hope that prayers will be answered. We need love to feel alive. And then He had me think about my mom in Heaven now. She no longer needs faith like she did on earth. She is with HIM! She no longer needs hope for all her hopes have been realized. But LOVE… LOVE… well, LOVE ENDURES FOREVER….LOVE NEVER ENDS. So…there is no question that she loves us and that we love her and that we get to love each other THROUGH ALL ETERNITY. Thank you Lord!

(Kim then shared a poem she wrote for Mom)

My Mother’s Smile

By Kim T. Szeker-Rogers


Will the world please stop….and pause a little while

Take time and reminisce……My mother’s smile

That smile simply…..had a way

of bringing Sunshine… a rainy day

Through all our life‘s… and downs

that smile reversed… many frowns

When she grew weak…..and could barely speak

That smile took us… the mountain peak

It brought us high…..when we felt low

Because we knew……it was time for her to go

To every smile……we held on tight

Please bring her through…. another night

Then her smile said….. she will be OK

To Heaven, Jesus is….leading her away

That smile said… not worry about me

I am as free… I can ever be

It won’t be long…..and we will understand

We’ll see her smile and…..hold her hand again

The peace we saw…..On her face that day

Showed us that smile…..will never fade away

Her biggest dream…..And her greatest prayer

Is for all of us… be aware

Our time on earth…..Is fading fast

Only what’s done…..for Jesus will last

Her smile is a…….Beautiful rhyme

That transcends….. us through time

From eternity she speaks this very day

“I really am not……that faraway”

“I loved you then…..and I love you now

I love you more……Now I know how”

(In loving memory of my mom, Sylvia Szeker who lived 84 beautiful years. 6/3/38-9/23/22)

I love you forever, Mom! Love , your daughter, Kim


(Kim also wrote the following poem for Dad from Mom)


Forever on my heart

By Kim T. Szeker-Rogers

(I awoke at 4 AM on 10-2-22 & prayed for you, Dad. The Lord gave me this poem from Mom to you)


So “HOW’S CHANCES” ….We would say…Each and every day

After our eyes met….on that train

Both born in June of 38….Somehow, we knew….that it was fate

God brought us together….on that day

From the moment…..I was young…..I prayed for the right one

To love and… love me in return

I chose you…..and you chose me…..Yet we knew that

It took three…...For we had so very much to learn

Jesus made the way……When all we could do…. was pray

For life gave us many……twists and turns

FOREVER ON MY HEART…….I’ve loved you from the start

And I will love you……every single day

For 62 beautiful years…..You helped me….through my fears

I want to remind you……You are not alone.

Thank you for driving miles…..Just to give me smiles

I needed you, my lover and my friend.

I needed you holding my hand to the end.

Each time you walked in the room and kissed me…..on the lips

I’ve always been so proud that you’re my groom

We both live in victory…..Through His Spirit ,

You still have me……In this life on earth

and into eternity.

He is your closest friend…..Live with joy to times end

For eternity is just…..a breath away, so

Live His plan for today

From Heaven to earth……I shout

CHANCES ARE…..without a doubt

Three words eight letters……“I love you” ….38


Karen Nelson’s Eulogy for Syl Szeker

Mom – I miss you & I love you forever.


First of all, I wanted to thank all of you who are here, who are online and who are in touch with us supporting us through this difficult time. It means the world to us, and we could not get through this without your love and support.

My mom was first and foremost a woman of faith. She and my dad had a perfect marriage because it was a unity between Mom, Dad, and the Lord. The two of them showed me what true love was all about. I feel so blessed to have a relationship with my husband, Barry, much like my parents. And so fortunate that Mom and Dad love Barry so much. My parents loved each other beyond measure. They have a forever love between them and God. They were always there for each other in sickness and in health and they respected each other without pause. Us 4 girls witnessed this growing up and now as adults we have witnessed and understood this even more. When my Dad walked into the room, my Mom’s beautiful blue eyes would sparkle, and she would smile so big it warmed my heart. She would say, “There’s my honey! I want a kiss from my honey!” But my Dad was already headed for her to kiss her and hold her hand.

My Mom & Dad loved each other for 65 years of which 62 were married to each other. A love like that never dies, she will always be with you, Dad. Forever in your heart. My Mom and Dad had a secret code (not so secret anymore). We girls would hear Mom say ,“38” at the end of every phone conversation with my Dad. And my dad would say, “38-2” to my mom before hanging up. We girls were baffled until one day, we asked, “What does 38 mean, Mom?” Mom smiled, and said, “3 words, 8 letters….I LOVE YOU”. WOW!!!!! So powerful with numbers.

Losing my Mom has been harder than I imagined. What gives me peace is that I know she is in heaven watching over us all. Before she passed, she was surrounded in some capacity with all her loved ones. And now, she is surrounded by eternal love, beauty, and happiness. She is out of pain, and she is rejoicing with the Lord.

My Mom loved butterflies. She had glittery butterflies all over the house and we were sure to send some off with her along with our flowers. Some people say: Butterflies represent change and transformation, comfort, hope and positivity. The presence of butterflies is a joyous and hopeful sign. Butterflies are said to be the messenger of angels. When butterflies are around you, the angels are approving your actions and that you are on the right path. That angels are guiding you and you need to stay faithful. Every time I see a butterfly, I will think of my mama.

Mom loved the Lord, she loved Jesus, she loved my Dad beyond measure, she loved her 4 girls, she loved her family, she loved her friends. She never ran out of love, even for those she did not know. She NEVER ran out of LOVE.

She loved square dancing with Dad. She and Dad had the cutest outfits ever.

She loved animals….from cockatoos to rats to guinea pigs to cats to dogs. You name it, we had it! Oh, how she loved her Gigi.

She loved trains because that’s where she met the love of her life 65 years ago.

She loved wagons and chimes…she loved how they sounded in the wind. She said that was Jesus talking to us and sending the wind to make the beautiful sounds.

She loved looking for turtles on our trips to Arizona with our family. We all made Dad pull over so many times and it would just be a piece of a tire!!

She loved Lake Almanor where we had many family adventures as kids and adults. We had our family reunion there in 2018. One time when Barry, Mariah and I visited Mom and Dad at Lake Almanor, they took us out on their boat. Nana and Mariah had a special thing together where they would feed the ducks and seagulls. So, Nana had a brilliant idea to feed the birds that were minding their own business quietly in the lake. Her and Mariah were scheming how they would do it! Dad, Barry, and I were focused up front looking ahead trying to find calm, smooth water to water ski in. Did I say calm??? Well, once Nana & Mariah started feeding the seagulls, they were literally flying and swarming above us, and we couldn’t get away from them!!!! Oh, my goodness, it was quite a site. Mariah’s belly laugh and Nana’s huge smile and giggles will always be cherished and remembered.

Mariah loved her Nana so much. She wrote on a post to her friends about the loss of Nana. She wrote: “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”

Mom loved the dippity dos on the road to Arizona to visit Grandma and Uncle Kevin. We would sing the dippity do song!!

She loved dressing up for church and outings. She always looked so beautiful, so perfect.

Mom loved having special time with each of us girls individually too. Mom and I had a special tradition to go to the nail salon and get our toes and fingers done together. It was our special bonding time together. Mariah got to join us sometimes when she was in town. After our appointments, we would join Dad and go to Mom & Dad’s favorite restaurant – Rum Thai. Oh, how Mom loved that place…she loved Thai food. We got to catch up and laugh and make new plans to see each other again. Mom always had her calendar with her, and it was filled! I had to get on it!!!

Mom loved the San Francisco Giants! Wait, did you hear me?? MOM LOVED THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS!!!!!! I was thrilled when my mom would start texting me about the games and naming off the players!! She was a Giants fan!!! All my life, my dad and I loved the Giants, so when my mom started loving them, it warmed my heart because she was now part of one of my passions. She had a wish to go to a Spring Training game in Arizona with Barry, Dad, and me. We did it in March of this year (2022) and we had an absolute blast!!! Singing “Take me out to the Ball Game” at the 7th inning stretch with my Mom, Dad and Barry was unforgettable. A memory I will forever cherish. So much fun! Every time I sing that (and it will be A LOT!), it will remind me of our time together and the smiles on our faces as we giggled and sang together!!

My family and friends know they can always count on me for pictures and videos. Well, ONE guess where I got the from??? YES, my MAMA!!! Every time I take a picture from now on, I will think of her.

My mom and dad not only loved each other, but they always respected each other and put each other first. Every decision was made together without pause because the Lord was guiding them. They truly believed (as do I) that whatever happened/happens in their lives, it was the Lords will. That they trust in the Lord and that all will be okay. As it is meant to be.

The Lord brought our family all together again to give Mom peace in knowing that we will be okay because we have each other to lean on and get through the sadness of the earthly death and to remind us of eternity and that one day we will all be reunited in His Kingdom.

My mom would always say “Love you More” after I told her “I love you, Mom”. It always made me smile and warmed my heart because she truly meant it. “Mom and Dad, 38-2-4…..I Love you too, forever”


I found a poem that spoke to me as if Mom were saying this to all of us. She was always trying to comfort us. I hope this poem gives you peace and comfort knowing that Mom would want to say this to us:


When Tomorrow Starts Without Me

by David M. Romano


When tomorrow starts without me

And I’m not here to see

If the sun should rise and find your eyes

Are filled with tears for me

I wish so much you wouldn’t cry

The way you did today

While thinking of the many things

We didn’t get to say

I know how much you love me

As much as I love you

And each time you think of me

I know you’ll miss me too

But when tomorrow starts without me

Please try to understand

That an angel came and called my name

And took me by the hand

And said my place was ready

In Heaven far above

And that I’d have to leave behind

All those I dearly love

But when I walked through Heaven’s gate

I felt so much at home

When God Looked down and smiled at me

From His great golden throne

He said this is eternity

And all I promised you

Today your life on earth is past

But here it starts anew

I promise no tomorrow

For today will always last

And since each day’s the same way

There’s no longing for the past

So, when tomorrow starts without me

Don’t think we’re far apart

For every time you think of me

I’m right here in your heart


Thank you, God, for blessing me with the best mom I could ask for. I love you, Mom, forever and I will miss you always. You will forever be in my heart.

Love, Karen


Mimi Pearson’s Eulogy for Syl Szeker

One, two, three, four. Thank the Lord there ain’t no more!



by M. C. Pearson


Mom, Nana, Syl, Sister, Friend.


What words do I use to describe my mother, a person who had the most gumption in the universe?

Mom was one of a kind, indomitable, a force of nature, determined. She instilled these qualities in each of us girls. But the most precious lesson we learned from Mom was to love no matter what.

Mom loved with her entire being, yet sometimes struggled expressing it and communicating that love in a way for others to understand. Her love was so fierce that others sometimes shied away from her. My mom’s love was at times so overwhelming that others could mistake it for nagging. But her love was unconditional. So unconditional that others were bathed daily in prayer and forgiveness, unrealizing just how special they were in her eyes.

Her eyes. Her eyes were as blue as the Hawaiian ocean. Often, Mom’s eyes looked quizzical as she analyzed the people around her. Those eyes followed her loved ones intently, as she studied them, trying to discern their needs and how she could help them. When one of them noticed and looked her way, she would smile. Her huge, beautiful smile was freely given to everyone. This disarming smile meant that she loved you and wanted to know you. She stopped strangers with that smile, and they wouldn’t be strangers for long.

Mom loved God. Her biggest smile was when she was singing and praising Him. I could spot her in a crowded choir easily. Her humongous smile and bobbing head always made me grin.

Mom expressed love in so many different ways to so many people, but the greatest example of love she taught me was the love she had for my Dad. Yes, they would argue at times, like all people married 62 years would do, but they always made up with a kiss. They always greeted one another with a kiss. They always started their day together communicating and loving one another. So, I’ll end this description of Mom NOT with a word, but a number. A number with which my parents ended every phone conversation with each other.  Thirty-eight.

Three words, eight letters. I LOVE YOU. Thirty-eight, Mom. 38.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mary "Syl" Sylvia Szeker, please visit our floral store.


Online Memory & Photo Sharing Event
Online Event

In Loving Memory Of

Mary "Syl" Szeker

June 3, 1938-September 23, 2022

Look inside to read what others
have shared

Family and friends are coming together online to create a special keepsake. Every memory left on the online obituary will be automatically included in the book.   

Online Memory & Photo Sharing Event
Online Event


In Loving Memory Of

Mary "Syl" Szeker

June 3, 1938-September 23, 2022

Look inside to read what others have shared

Family and friends are coming together online to create a special keepsake. Every memory left on the online obituary will be automatically included in the book.   

You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family, or by planting a memorial tree in the memory of Mary "Syl" Sylvia Szeker

© 2023 Rose Chapel Mortuary and Crematory. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility