Sylvia Sewell, 95, West Manor Legend

Praise pouring in on Facebook and Southcare obituaries pages for legendary 6th grade teacher who changed lives. A memorial service is set for Sunday, Nov. 13th.

Sylvia Sewell—a dedicated teacher who mentored, loved and disciplined every student who came through her 6th grade class at —died last month. She was 95.

A memorial service for Sewell is set for 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, at the Campbell Stone Chapel in Buckhead, 2911 Pharr Court South N.W. Atlanta, GA 30305.

The follow obituary is posted on the SouthCare Cremation Society and Memorial Centers website.

Sylvia Dodson Sewell, 95, of Atlanta, Georgia, passed away on October 20, 2011. She is survived by two daughters, Robyn Burns (Joe Burns) of Marietta, GA and Suzanne Antink of Newport Beach, CA; grandchildren Robyn Hubbard (Chris) of Costa Mesa, CA, Greg Burns (Cristina) of Parkville, MO, Liz Trond (Dave) of Camden, CT and Braden Burns (Catherine) of Rome, GA; great-grandchildren Maryn, Laurel, Grady, Jake, Elizabeth and Toby; extended family and many friends. Mrs. Sewell was born in Buchanan, Georgia to Gaines Franklin Dodson & Susie Conant Dodson. She graduated from Bessie Tift College in Forsyth, Georgia and in 1939 married Robert Sewell, who passed away in 2005. Sylvia was a long-time member of Calvary Methodist Church in Atlanta before joining Atlanta First Methodist and later Peachtree Road Methodist Church. Sylvia retired from the Atlanta Public School System in 1985 after teaching for over 30 years. She ended her career at West Manor Elementary where she taught English. Prior to joining the staff at West Manor, Sylvia spent many years teaching at J.C. Harris in Atlanta. In retirement, Sylvia volunteered as a Pink Lady at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, where she faithfully delivered the mail to patients’ rooms for 23 years. She was especially fond of poetry and would share this love with anyone she met. In the years following her retirement, former students would stay in touch and often visit, recalling the poems they had learned in Sylvia’s sixth grade class. Sylvia also loved to play bridge and was a member of many bridge clubs during her lifetime. A celebration of life service will be held @ on November 13, 2011 in the Campbell-Stone (Buckhead) chapel at 3:00 p.m. Officiating will be Reverend Neal Ponder and Reverend Dr. Janice Hume. Family will gather with friends one hour prior to the service in the clubroom. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in memory of Sylvia to Campbell-Stone (Buckhead), 2911 Pharr CT. South N.W. Atlanta, GA 30305 Fellowship of John Fund (attention Rev. Janice Hume).

If you were in one of her classes, please share your memories and photos of Mrs. Sewell in the comments section here.


Janita Poe November 01, 2011 at 10:30 AM
Here are some shared on a Facebook tribute to Mrs. Sewell: "It matters not how straight the gate, How filled with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul."—Reginald Olds (U.S. Postal Service) "Laugh and the World Laughs with you, Weep and you Weep alone...."—Felecia Parker "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you."—Tobe Johnson (New York City, Esq.) "You are fiddling Nero while Rome is burning"—Eric Chennault (University of Chicago MBA) "I thnk that I shall never see, A thing as lovely as a tree........"—Ursula Winfrey Stewart (M.A.) The list goes on.... Please share your favorite Sylvia Sewell poems that you had to memorize every week and recite before class with us!
Jamie Cox November 01, 2011 at 01:13 PM
Wow! What an extraorinary woman and a great teacher. I'm enjoying reading your comments about her.
Tobe Johnson November 01, 2011 at 01:47 PM
Mrs. Sewell had a greater impact on me than any other teacher. When I went to college I majored in English in part because of the strong foundation I got from her. She was a great teacher because she always demanded that we do our best and to strive for excellence. The poems that she had us learn by heart also helped shape my character and frame my perspective. She knew how important it was for kids to have good role models and a positive self image even before such terms were part of the nomenclature. We remained friends over the years and at age 40 something I still refered to her as Mrs. Sewell. She attended both my wedding and my sister's wedding. I called her ten years after the wedding and she asked "How is your wife Shirley?" I was quiiet for a minute because I was suprised that she remembered my wife's name. Then she said, "Yes Tobe I'm still sharp." Last year when we visited Atlanta I took my wife and then two year old son Jack to visit her. After that whenever I called her she would ask about him. I was pleased to know that close to her death she asked Mrs. Hurley about him. I sent her a card and the picture of my son that I always kept in my wallet for her to have. May she rest in peace.
Leslye Joy Allen November 01, 2011 at 04:41 PM
I was never a student at West Manor, but my mother taught there. I remember Mrs. Sewell and remember visiting her home often when she lived on Fairburn Road. Her devotion to educating young people has never been equalled. Her life is an example of a life well lived. The hardest thing I am going to have to do is to tell my mother (then Mrs. Syble Allen) that one of her favorite former co-workers has joined the ancestors. R. I. P. Mrs. Sewell.
Lamar Cofield November 01, 2011 at 04:46 PM
"Abo Ben Adam, may his tribe increase, awoke one night from a deep dream of peace" Lamar Cofield (ADT Security)
Charles Lawrence November 01, 2011 at 05:05 PM
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you-- Rudyard Kipling......One of the All Time Great Teachers who ironically lived past many of her students and parents. Truely a LEGEND ! One True Teacher who obviously did not see race during a period of transition and unrest in SW Atlanta. CERTAINLY THE RIGHT TEACHER FOR THE RIGHT TME FOR THE RIGHT NEIGHBORHOOD ! It is no accident the great students that followed..Janita, Renee, Fawn, Wanya, etc and on and on and on....of course too too many to name. MAY WE NEVER FORGET HER !.....I do not know how it is related to Ms Sewell but we had a street for years named Sewell Road now B E Mays Dr. .......
Carla Mannings November 02, 2011 at 01:27 AM
Mrs. Sewell was one of the most impactful teachers that I had. I will remember her fondly always. While at the time, I had NO appreciation for memorizing all of the poems that were required, many of them remain with me to this day. I will be forever grateful that I had her as a teacher. Thank you Mrs. Sewell, you will be forever remembered and loved by your students. My favorite poem that I memorized is Abou Ben Adhem, by Leigh Hunt. Here is it: Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!) Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace, And saw, within the moonlight of his room, Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom, An angel writing in a book of gold:- Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold, And to the presence in the room he said, 'What writest thou?' - The vision raised its head, And with a look made of all sweet accord, Answered 'The names of those who love the Lord.' 'And is mine one?' said Abou. 'Nay, not so,' Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low, But cheerly still; and said 'I pray thee then, Write me as one that loves his fellow-men.' The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night It came again with a great wakening light, And showed the names who love of God had blessed, And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.
Cherita November 02, 2011 at 04:04 AM
Most of my favorites have already been mentioned (Invictus, If, Solitude), but here's one more: Be strong! We are not here to play, to dream, to drift, We have hard work to do, and loads to lift. Shun not the struggle, face it. 'Tis God's gift. Be strong! Say not the days are evil, Who's to blame? And fold not the hands and acquiesce, O shame! Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God's name. Be strong! It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong, How hard the battle goes, the day, how long. Faint not, fight on! Tomorrow comes the song. Thank you Mrs. Sewell! R.I.P
Ignatius Reeves November 02, 2011 at 07:25 AM
One of my favorites was this classic poem by Lewis Carroll, I love the verbage.. Jabberwocky 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. "Beware the Jabberwock, my son The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!" He took his vorpal sword in hand; Long time the manxome foe he sought— So rested he by the Tumtum tree, And stood awhile in thought. And, as in uffish thought he stood, The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, And burbled as it came! One, two! One, two! And through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back. "And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" He chortled in his joy. 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. I'll never forget you, Mrs. Sewell. God rest your soul
Janita Poe November 02, 2011 at 10:27 AM
Four days before she passed, one of my book club's founders (and a top student of Mrs. Sewell's back in ... well back in the day) fondly recalled, at our monthly meeting, Mrs. Sewell's class and the many poems we had to memorize. Just the fact that three of her former students read literature regularly to this today is a testament to her great legacy.
Robyn Burns November 02, 2011 at 05:55 PM
My sister, Suzanne, and I thank everyone for the beautiful tributes to our mother, Sylvia Sewell. I am astounded by the heartfelt emotion displayed by her former students from West Manor Elementary in Atlanta, GA. I have always known that mother held a special place in her heart for all of her students, but she was quick to say that the children in her classes at West Manor were some of the smartest and most capable students that she had ever taught! As I read and re-read the comments, I can tell that you, her former students, are well-educated, self confident, and successful -- attributes that my mother would be so proud of. For those who visited her or kept in touch with phone calls, letters and pictures, please know that our family is grateful for the time and effort you took. She lived a long, healthy and productive life and she was lucky to have you as a part of it. Looking forward to seeing many of you on the 13th. Robyn Sewell Burns
Frederick Williams November 02, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Mrs. Sewell's impact on education in the Southwest Atlanta area, namely students from West Manor Elementary is extremely profound. Mrs. Sewell not only introduced us to poetry, but she opened our minds and took us on a journey beyond our community. On this journey we learned how to "Be Strong" and she taught us how to imagine what we could do "If" we just believed in ourselves. We watched battles unfold as we joined the "Charge of The Light Brigade." We learned how to see the splendor of nature as we watched "The Daffodils." Through Mrs. Sewell's efforts and hard work she taught us how to find "Solitude" through poetry. From sixth grade, one of my favorite books is and always will be the one that we had to have and that is "One Hundred and One Famous Poems;" I have two copies one at home and one at work. If I had to choose one poem that reflects my feelings about Mrs. Sylvia Sewell’s, legacy it would be: "Not In Vain" by Emily Dickinson. If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain: If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain. Mrs. Sylvia Sewell accomplished all of the above. She did not live in vain. To Mrs. Sylvia Sewell's family, we thank God for allowing us to share a portion of our time with this Angel of a lady and we thank you for letting us share in the celebration of her life. Sincerely, Frederick M. Williams, Ed. S. Mrs. Sewell’s Student "76 - 77"
Brian D. Poe November 03, 2011 at 12:48 PM
Mrs. Sylvia Sewell was an amazing woman. I think we all agree that she made each and every person "step up their game" in life, when that person was taught by Mrs. Sewell, even if she was not their primary teacher. Thank God for me that she was my primary teacher. When you walked into her room, you felt like you were on a stage for your entire visit or stay each day. You wanted to perform your very best. She even monitored our posture. Her motto was to take pride in ourselves and take pride in life. "Today is the first day of the rest of your life!" I cannot remember how many times she said that to us. Basically, seize the opportunities that you have today! Seize life! Hold yourself responsible and accountable, and push yourself to your highest limit! And do it with a style and a smile on your face! It was amazing because every single student seemed to buy into her vision. Because we all knew that she believed in us and our gifts and was pushing us to be the best. And so, we were! We had some amazing teachers at West Manor Elementary School. What a great place it was, and I hope it still is. With that said, Mrs. Sewell was truly the best of the best. Attorney Brian Poe, West Manor Elementary Class of 1979.
Fee Simmons February 17, 2014 at 01:20 PM
"FELIX...stop twiddling your thumbs".....what a legend.....poems from that infamous book still ring in me ears... And a few are around my desk...she lives on forever does she!


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