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Serving Dane County since 1922.

Sylvia A. Engel

July 4, 1946 April 8, 2016
Sylvia A. Engel
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Obituary for Sylvia A. Engel

Sylvia Engel died peacefully in Madison, Wisconsin on April 8, 2016.

Sylvia was born on July 4th, 1946 in Oak Park, Ill. She grew up in Indianapolis Indiana and in Wauwatosa Wisconsin. She moved to Madison, Wisconsin to begin her studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison. And, except for a few years in New Mexico, lived the rest of her life in Madison. Sylvia raised two daughters, earned a bachelor's degree in Anthropology from the UW Madison, and spent a great deal of time exploring nature and volunteering to support preservation and enjoyment of natural areas in Wisconsin. She worked at Women's Transit Authority, and later for RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program). Sylvia was a kind and gentle soul, but had a playful and mischievous side as well. She was a strong and independent woman who raised her two daughters to be the same.

Sylvia was most at home in nature. It was here that she was her happiest and most at peace. She loved canoeing, camping, and exploring nature. She shared many of these wilderness adventures with her daughters and her dear friend Sara Williams. Her favorite places included the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Porcupine Mountains, Isle Royale and along the shores of Lake Superior. She first developed her love for nature in the Marquette Michigan area, and it held a special place in her heart. She loved going on adventures with her mother in the Upper Peninsula (where her father grew up). She also treasured her summers spent at the Boy Scout Camp where her father worked. She was a Girl Scout through her teens.

For many years Sylvia lived near Dunn's Marsh and the UW Arboretum. The "Arb" was a very special place for Sylvia, where she spent hours hiking the trails and sharing her passion for nature. Sylvia instilled this same love of nature in her daughters Kirsten and Jennifer, taking them hiking in the Arboretum and canoeing on nearby lakes and rivers. Most family vacations were spent camping. She later joined her daughters and grandchildren in many of these same places. She took great joy in playing with her eldest grandson, Tyler, exploring the wonders of nature through playing with fire, bugs and water. She had begun to share this with her younger grandsons Misa and Jovi before she became sick.

Sylvia was a self-taught naturalist and enjoyed teaching others about plants and animals. She was a dedicated volunteer, and worked countless hours sharing her knowledge and skills to help preserve the natural areas that she loved around Madison and Wisconsin. At the Arboretum, she was a team leader for weekend work parties, helped monitor trillium populations, was a trail steward, and helped in the bookstore. She was also a volunteer with Dane County Parks, helping with Prairie restoration projects and invasive species management. Three times a year she would head out at night to count frog calls for the Department of Natural Resources Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey. She also spent two summers as a volunteer in the bookstore on Isle Royale, living on the remote island for several weeks (She was in her fifties and was one of the oldest volunteers there).

She is survived by her daughters, Kirsten K. Engel (Ron Miller) of Verona and Jennifer J. Engel-Diaz (Moises Diaz) of Madison; three grandchildren, Tyler Engel, Misael Diaz and Giovanni Diaz; sister, Sandra Bauer; brother, Sidney (Jeanne) Hatch and very special friends Sara Williams and Sara Killian.

A Celebration of Sylvia's Life will be held at 2:00pm on May 7th at Stewart Lake County Park in Mt. Horeb, Wis.

Stewart Lake Park
3106 Cty Hwy JG
Mt Horeb WI, 53572

The family would like to create a book of special memories from Sylvia's life and ask for stories and pictures to contribute to this. If you have a picture, memory or story to share please send a copy to one of her daughters or bring it to the celebration on May 7th.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the family for a special memorial to be purchased in the near future.

Gunderson Fitchburg
Funeral & Cremation Care
2950 Chapel Valley Road

Previous Events

Celebration of Life




2:00 PM 5/7/2016 2:00:00 PM - 4:00 PM 5/7/2016 4:00:00 PM
Stewart Lake County Park

3106 Cty Hwy JG
Mt. Horeb, WI 53572

Stewart Lake County Park
3106 Cty Hwy JG Mt. Horeb 53572 WI
United States

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