Obituary | William Sylvester

William Kenneth Sylvester
William Kenneth Sylvester

William Kenneth Sylvester of Thief River Falls, MN, passed away peacefully with his family by his side, at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, ND, on Thursday, May 25, 2023 at the age of 89.

A visitation in honor of William will be held from 4:00 PM until 6:00 PM on Sunday, May 28, 2023 at Johnson Funeral Service in Thief River Falls, MN.  Interment will be held at a later date at Black River Lutheran Church Cemetery, rural St. Hilaire, MN.

William Kenneth Sylvester – born December 2, 1933, in Langdon, ND.  William (Bill) is the son of Bertha McFadden Sylvester and John Sylvester.  The family lived in Nakoma, ND, for a few years before moving to Gilby, ND, where his parents operated a grocery and miscellaneous store.  Bill attended Gilby school until 9th grade, learned to play basketball – loved it and became a lifetime fan.

As he was growing up in Gilby, he was busy working whatever jobs he could get, from picking potatoes to hauling coal, etc., always ready to help.  In 1948, his family moved to the farm in rural Thief River Falls, MN.  Bill graduated from Lincoln High School in 1951.  He went to the twin cities for work, and attended the University of Minnesota.  Bill enlisted in the Air Force in 1953.  He was headed for Navigator school when he contracted rheumatic fever, spent 3 months in the hospital and received a medical discharge which brought him back to Minneapolis, MN, where he worked for the railroad for 10 years.

In 1956, Bill met Lucille (Lucy) Johnson and the couple wed in December of 1957, in the Lutheran Church in Adrian, MN.  The couple made their home in Montgomery, MN, until 1960, when they moved to Bloomington. Over the next 6 years, Bill & Lucy had 3 children, Laurel, Kenneth, and Wanda.  In 1966, the couple moved their family back to the farm in rural Thief River Falls, MN, and became dairy farmers.

Bill spent 25 years on the Bray Township board, served on the Black River Lutheran Church council, and spent 1 year as the Saint Hilaire, MN PTA president.  After retirement in 2000, Bill and Lucy purchased a winter home in Split Rail RV Park in Mission, TX.  Bill was very active in the association, by serving as the Vice President of the Park Association for 2 years, President for 2 years, and on the board for 1 year, along with being the jack of all trades, fixing whatever needed fixing in the Park.  In 2007, Bill and Lucy were elected King and Queen of the Association.

Bill is preceded in death by his parents, bother Robert and sister-in-law, Helen Sylvester, brother-in-law, Mike (JoAnn) Torkelson, brother-in-law, Randy (Patricia) Synan, sister-in-law, Enid (Jack) Sylvester, sister, Judith Kieffer, and niece, Amy Aadland (daughter of Penny and Blaine Aadland).

Bill is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Lucy; three children, Laurel (Tim) McGauvran, Kenneth (Pegi Jo Putz) Sylvester, and Wanda (Jon) Braton; nine grandchildren, Sara (Robert) Conklin, Linsey McGauvran, Kassandera McGauvran, Eric Sylvester, Jackie (Joe) Mangelsdorf, Kelsie (Zak) Robinson, Amber (Bill) Briss, Adam Garry and Alex Garry; 2 step-grandsons, Jon (Candy) Braton Jr, Travis Braton; and 11 great grandchildren and 3 step great grandchildren.  A sister, JoAnn Torkelson, sister, Patricia Synan, brother John (Jack) Sylvester, sister, Penny (Blaine) Aadland, and may loving nieces and nephews.

God rest his soul.