Biography: Sister Sylvia Sturdivant, aka “Nana” was born on September 18, 1939, to the late Levon Sr. and Priscilla Sturdivant, in Webb, Mississippi. She was one of eleven children, and was educated in the Mississippi Public School System.
In the late 50’s, desiring to explore what the world had to offer, Sylvia decided to relocate to New York City, with her sister Beatrice and brother in-law Dennis. It was there, through Christian experience, Sylvia joined Mount Olivet Baptist Church in November 1959, under the leadership of the late Dr. O. Clay Maxwell Sr. Sylvia happily served at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church for more than 50 years. Sylvia heeded the calling on her life; she was an Evangelist, teaming up with the late Dr. Ella Morgan and Deaconess Beverly Jackson. They were a powerhouse team, spreading the gospel to everyone they encountered.
Sylvia was active in ministry, serving as a member of the Mother’s Club, the Sunday School Department, Sunday School Teacher’s Meeting, the Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting, and she presided over the Tuesday Afternoon Senior Citizen Bible Class until her health declined. Her dedication and servant’s heart would be later acknowledged during Mt. Olivet Baptist Church’s 135th Anniversary, where she was honored for her many years of service.
Sylvia’s love for people and exceptional skills allowed her to work in the New York City’s Garment District for over forty years. During her time at work, she served as a member of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and the United Production Workers Union Local 17-18, until her retirement.
Sylvia loved her family by teaching and practicing family values. When Sylvia said goodbye to her career in the Garment District, she happily assumed the role that she loved until the end as Nana. Nana became a full-time caregiver for her grand and great-grandchildren, until she was no longer able to care for them. She made her home a safe place for them to come, always allowing her babies to do whatever they wanted, all while teaching them about God.
Sylvia was a God-fearing woman who loved to pray privately and publicly. She had a compassionate and loving heart. She was kind to all who crossed her path. Sylvia was a devoted mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, and friend. She was amazing in the kitchen, sharing her love for the culinary arts with her family and friends. Some of her notable dishes were sweet potato soufflé, gingerbread cookies, bread pudding, lemon icebox pie, macaroni salad, steak, and her German Chocolate Cake. She also loved to go to Red Lobster Restaurant annually for her birthday.
Sylvia believed in allowing her light to shine so that anyone who met her had felt like they were in the presence of God himself. She always greeted you with a smile, provided words of wisdom and encouragement. She reminded you to trust in the Lord and made you feel welcome and at peace just by her hugs. Sylvia epitomized the definition of a Christian. She was everyone’s Mom, Auntie, and Nana.
After gracing the world with her presence, leaving an indelible mark, and completing the assignment God had for her life, Sylvia departed this world peacefully on Tuesday February 16, 2021, at home, surrounded by her loving family. In addition to her
parents, Sylvia was preceded in death by two brothers (Levon, Jr. and Mize), and five sisters (Jessie Mae, Ada B, Yvonne, Grace, and Rosie Lee).
Nana leaves to cherish her memories, her daughter, Priscilla Ann and her son, Vincent (Monique), three grandchildren, Sheniqua (Craig), Jaguar, and Candace, great-grandchildren, Joshua, Craig Jr, Carter, and McKenize, two brothers, Robert (Christine) and Arthur (Dorothy), one sister, Beatrice Ellis (Dennis), her adopted children, Vanessa, Kiesha (Morris), Courtney, Jocelyn, Janine, and Claude (Denise), and a host of nieces, nephews, in-laws, cousins and other caring relatives and friends, all of whom will miss her dearly.
Special thanks to her family and friends, especially to Denise Ellis-McMillian, Barbara Alsbrooks, and Claude and Denise Williams for their care and support during her declining health