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Sylvia Carrington McLaughlin Chambers

SoVaNow.com / November 05, 2018
South Boston News
Sylvia M. Chambers
Sylvia Carrington McLaughlin Chambers died peacefully at her home in Seattle, Wash. on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018 after a year-long battle with cancer.

Born Aug. 27, 1963 in South Boston, the youngest child in her family, Sylvia grew up in the Town of Halifax and graduated from Halifax County Senior High School in 1981. She went on to attend University of Virginia, graduating in 1985, and earned her Masters in Education at the University of Washington in the city of Seattle, where she worked for years as a public school math teacher in the middle school grades. She was a devoted wife and mother of two daughters and often visited back home in Halifax where she had family and many friends. She was 55 at the time of her passing.

In high school, Sylvia was an accomplished student, musician and athlete, becoming drum majorette of the Comet Marching Band and for a time holding the school record in the high jump. She never relinquished her youthful spirit which served her well in her career as a public school teacher. On Halloween, she would amuse her classes by dressing up as Marge Simpson, and at all times as a teacher she strived to get the best out of her students. She believed in education, compassion and kindness towards others, values she passed on to all who knew her.

After graduating from U.Va., she met her husband Craig, a computer scientist and formerly a professor at the University of Washington, now employed by Google, and they made a happy life together in Seattle, raising their two girls, Caitlin and Addie. Their pursuits were many — from the environment to the arts to weekend games of Ultimate Frisbee with friends — and they were fortunate to travel to many places in the world, fostering an ardent interest in other cultures and peoples. Sylvia was an avid hiker and inquisitive explorer.

Sylvia later set aside her teaching career to focus on her girls, although she would often say that she never stopped being a teacher, just that the ratios changed. She was enormously proud of her daughters’ academic and athletic accomplishments — Caitlin, 24, graduated from Princeton University in 2017 and continues to hold the Ivy League record in women’s diving, and Addie, 21, is currently a senior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-captain of the MIT swim team and NCAA Division III All-American. Amid all, Sylvia was also proud to share with friends the stories of her upbringing in Halifax. She frequently traveled with Craig and their daughters to visit with family and enjoy many experiences of her youth, from paddling the Staunton River to taking long walks in the Town of Halifax. In her all-too-short time, she lived passionately and fully.

Sylvia is survived by her husband, Craig Chambers, of the home; her daughters, Caitlin McLaughlin Chambers of New York City and Adelaide Woods Chambers of Cambridge, Mass.; her mother, Sylvia O. McLaughlin of Halifax; her sister, Ann Lovelace McLaughlin of Mountain View, Calif., and her three brothers, Tucker W. McLaughlin Jr. of Halifax, William Woods McLaughlin (Elizabeth) of Halifax, and Thomas Barksdale McLaughlin (Eva) of South Boston. She also is survived by her beloved stepmother, Martha McLaughlin Johnson, of Kilmarnock, and uncle, Henry W. McLaughlin III, of Richmond; cousins and many nieces and nephews on both sides of the family.

She was preceded in death by her father, Tucker W. McLaughlin Sr.

Memorials will be held in Seattle and in Halifax at dates to be announced later.

For those who would like to honor Sylvia’s memory in some tangible way, the family asks that you consider donating time or money to causes near to your own heart, or to hers. Sylvia was deeply involved in her community and cared about a wide variety of local and global causes, including public libraries, national parks, education, music, global health and human rights, and gun control.

In the spirit of her life, the family suggests contributing to any of the following local non-profits: the Halifax County Public Schools Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 1114, Halifax, VA 24558; the Halifax County-South Boston Public Library System, at either local branch; or Do Something for Halifax, Va., offering shelter and services to the homeless, P. O. Box 1433, South Boston, VA 24592. Suggestions for national and international charities include Doctors Without Borders, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southern Poverty Law Center, Free the Children, Heifer International and the United Way.

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