Sylvia Barbour Vrabec
Heaven welcomed Sylvia Barbour Vrabec, a beloved resident of Estes Park, as she changed her residency to the place her Savior had gone to prepare for her. The cause of her death at the EPMC Emergency Department was related to respiratory illness and complications.
Sylvia was born in Pasadena, California on February 7, 1928 to loving parents, Kathryn Colwell and John Menzies Barbour. Sylvia was very close to both her father and mother who taught her honesty, self-government, love, and courage.
Her life was forever changed when at the age of 17 she opened her parents’ front door to a handsome young freshman student at Caltech named Dale Vrabec. Though he fell in love with her from the start, their story is complex. While attending Mills College in Oakland, California Sylvia married someone else and was blessed to become the mother of Kathryn and Lee. When Dale, now married to Sylvia, retired from the aerospace industry and moved with Sylvia to Estes Park in 1988, they had been married two separate times to each other! Here they lived and loved each other through sickness and health, until death has now parted them.
Sylvia had a passion for America’s Christian history starting with the Pilgrims whom she honored by dressing as one every Thanksgiving. She became a teacher at Faith Baptist School in Longmont. Her methods were somewhat unusual, and a former student, now a pastor, recalls that when he had difficulty in inverting fractions, Sylvia made him stand on his head (i.e., “inverted”) in a corner of the classroom for quite a while! She also wrote a series of plays for her students to perform portraying the history of the Pilgrims. These plays became an annual event at this school.
Faith Baptist School used books published by the Foundation for American Christian Education (FACE) and incorporated FACE’s Principle Approach methodology for teaching in their classrooms. She became dedicated to this particular teaching methodology, as well as to Christian schools and to homeschooling of children by their Christian parents. Later she was given an assignment by the two founders of FACE to write a book to improve the teaching of science in Christian schools and by homeschooling moms through the vehicle of the science of oceanography which incorporates all the basic sciences. The recognized founder of this scientific discipline was a U.S. Naval officer named Matthew Fontaine Maury whose Christian faith and familiarity with scripture inspired and guided his scientific researches. An essay written by Sylvia, “Plotting God’s Oceans for Man,” is a biography of Maury and is accessible on the Internet, posted by FACE. For many years Sylvia and Dale lived in Palos Verdes Estates, California where they could look out at the blue Pacific Ocean and hear sea lions barking at night. There Sylvia was elected president of the Palos Verdes Oceanographic Society which had close ties with nearby Marineland as well as with professionally conducted whale-spotting activities. All of this provided a natural background for writing her book. To be sure, not scientifically trained, she did from time to time consult on the scientific content with her husband who has a background in solar astrophysics.
Sylvia was an expert swimmer and would go out beyond the waves and swim for a mile parallel to the shore without breaking stroke.
Sylvia was a creative, enthusiastic, and a fun teacher. Even after a battle with cancer took her voice, replacing it with an electronic speaking device, she continued to rally others and teach classes about American History. Her final accomplishment in life was the completion of her textbook, “Oceanography, A Wholistic and Biblical View from the Principle Approach,” that is currently being edited prior to publication as a hardcover book in late fall of this year.
Sylvia’s greatest passion in life was God and His Word. Most mornings found her with her tea and Bible studying and gaining fresh insight into what God was teaching her that day. She loved Him with all her heart. As an outgrowth of her love for God she loved America and passionately prayed, taught, and worked towards the goal that America would return to its Christian heritage.
Sylvia is survived by her husband, Dale, her sister, Helen, her daughter and son-in-law, Kathryn and Jim Lewis, her grandchildren, Christopher Howard, Sarah Levine, Katie Pernosky, and Tabitha Wright, and her great-grandchildren, Inunnguaq Pernosky, Pivinnguaq Pernosky, and Richard Lee Wright, and countless other dear friends who loved her. She is now in Heaven with her parents and her son, Lee, who preceded her in death.
The celebration of Sylvia’s life and the mourning of her death will be held Saturday April 12, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. at Mountain View Bible Fellowship Church in Estes Park.
The family thanks first of all Sylvia’s wonderful husband for his tireless love, and the Estes Park Medical Center staff for their skill and kindness. Sylvia had a voice which will be heard through generations. See www.allnutt.com to send a message to Sylvia’s family.