Statesboro is morning the loss “Mrs. Hospitality” Sylvia Brown. Sylvia passed away Thursday morning, November 1, 2018, at Ogeechee Area Hospice, surrounded by her loving family.
Sylvia was born on July 28, 1934, in Halkyn, Flintshire, North Wales, Great Britain. She was the youngest of four children born to the late George Blackburn and Sarah Beatrice Howells Powis.
She immigrated to the U.S. as a young adult and became a naturalized American citizen in 1966. In 1968, she married Walter Olin Brown and moved to his hometown of Statesboro after his retirement from the United States Air Force.
Sylvia was affectionately known as “Mrs. Hospitality” to friends who knew her inside and outside of the hospitality industry. She never met a stranger and within minutes of meeting her, you felt like you had known her all your life. She listened compassionately and cared deeply about everyone she touched. She always had a wonderful compliment or encouraging word for you.
“I knew Sylvia for over 30 years and she epitomized the word “Hospitality “. Sylvia had the unique gift of making each customer feel like the most important guest in the hotel”, said Doug Lambert, President, Southeastern Hospitality Services. “She worked tirelessly for the convention bureau and will be greatly missed.”
If you were lucky enough to have worked with Sylvia, then she considered you part of her extended family. Guest who frequented her hotels, looked forward to “coming home” to spend one more night under her watchful care.
“Sylvia was a wonderful friend to me, an encourager and a great mentor. She had integrity; her word was her bond”, said Jenny Foss, Editor, Statesboro Magazine. “Before social media and “branding,” Sylvia marketed Statesboro by being kind, giving and welcoming to everyone. I am so grateful that God put her in my life, she taught me so much.”
Sylvia spent over 40 years in the hospitality industry in the area. Her career started at Holiday Inn Savannah-South, located at I-95 and Highway 204, the “Gateway to Savannah.” Sylvia ran the 187-room motel, its full-service restaurant and the popular area nightclub, 204 Lounge, for eight years during the early 1980s.
In 1986, Sylvia transferred to the Holiday Inn Statesboro, then located at 230 South Main Street, where she was general manager for eight years. In 1994, Sylvia moved on to manage the Hampton Inn of Statesboro. In 1997, Statesboro’s First United Methodist Church purchased the Trellis Garden Inn, where she served as the only general manager until she retired when the church closed the motel in 2010.
A proponent of tourism and hospitality for the community and a true Statesboro ambassador, Sylvia served as a founding board member of the Statesboro Convention & Visitors Bureau, where she recently worked part-time as a liaison with area hoteliers up until last month, when she resigned due to illness.
“Sylvia loved the hospitality industry, and she supported it by volunteering at the CVB right up until her illness made it impossible to continue”, said Becky Davis, Executive Director of the SCVB. “She will certainly be missed by the hotel community and SCVB staff.”
Sylvia was 1999 Kiwanian of the Year and a George F. Hixson Fellow of the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro, which recently honored her long-time service as the children’s petting zoo coordinator, with a tribute luncheon and “Sylvia Brown Day” at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair.
Sylvia was also honored in 1998 with the Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Award, the Customer Service Excellence Award from the Georgia Department of Industry Trade & Tourism and was the 1994 Hospitality Leader of the Year for Statesboro.
She lived by the motto, “Be kind to everyone, every day.”
Memorial Service This Morining
She was preceded in death by her parents and three siblings, Audrey Blackburn Powis Speed (Ken), Ronald Powis (Edith) and Beryl Decima Powis Thomas (Walter); and her son, Gary Wayne Collier.
Survivors include her husband of 50 years, Walter Olin Brown, Statesboro; three children: son, Richard Collier (Nicki), Cheyenne, Wyoming; daughters, Gail Collier DuRant (Joe), Newport News, Virginia; and Donna Collier Creasy (Kevin), Nevils, Georgia; grandchildren, Jennifer Williams Artz and Justin Michael Creasy, Sarah Kate DuRant Tootle and James Addison DuRant, Christina Collier Gall and Rebekah Collier Mauldin; great-grandchildren, Jade Madison Artz, Winslow Gall and Magnolia Mauldin. Also surviving are many nieces and nephews in Great Britain, plus a host of loving friends and co-workers in hospitality.
A memorial service for Sylvia will be held this morning, Monday, November 5, 2018, at 11 a.m. in the chapel of Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home, officiated by the Rev. James A. Cason Jr.
Visitation will be held prior to the service beginning at 10 a.m.
A private interment will be held at a later date.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be given to the Humane Society of Bulloch County, P O. Box 581, Statesboro, GA 30459, www.statesborohumane.org; or , 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105-3678, www.stjude.org.
Friends may sign the online register book at www.joineranderson.com.
Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home & Crematory of Statesboro is in charge of the arrangements.