Sylvia Russell

Sylvia A. Russell

1940 - 2022

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Obituary of Sylvia A. Russell

Sylvia A. Russell was born March 24, 1940 in Potsdam, NY, the daughter of Lawrence R. “Bob” Russell and Carolyn Turnbull Russell (Bacon).  Sylvia died peacefully in her sleep on October 14, 2022 in Albany NY, following an acute illness.  Sylvia is predeceased by her eldest son, Lieutenant Commander Randall G. Williams, USN, Ret. (Hyun Ju), a decorated combat veteran.  She is survived by her sister, Gail Peale of Syracuse, NY; her son Steven C. Williams of Norfolk, VA (Jennifer); her son Charles R. Williams of Loudonville, NY (Margaret McGovern); her granddaughters Carolyn T. Williams (Saugerties, NY), Nicole H. Williams (New Bedford, MA), and Alexandra Williams (VA); and her grandson Braxton T. Shields (Loudonville, NY).


Sylvia was an elementary educator for thirty years with the Plattsburgh City Schools, teaching generations of children in the community.  She is well remembered as a dedicated teacher, and a great colleague.  Her love was music, and Sylvia was a classically trained musician and music theorist, studying at the Crane School of Music.  The mere mention of a word and Sylvia would often burst into song utilizing that lyric and she could quickly pick up and play any melody on the piano, an instrument she taught for decades to young people in the community. As Music Director at her church, Sylvia developed a strong music program delivering excellent holiday programs and led the effort to build a state-of-the-art pipe organ.  Her choir members remain a tight knit group of dear friends – a formidable group of people who shared the light of love.  Sylvia was well known for her intellect and sharp wit, which she employed throughout the years with quick comebacks and clever observations, utilizing an extensive vocabulary strengthened by mornings spent doing crosswords in her garden.  Sylvia made a great dinner companion with her love of food, laughter and good conversation. 


Sylvia’s greatest joys were her children and grandchildren, with whom she shared her indulgent love of sweet treats.  She delighted in regaling friends with at times richly embellished stories of their accomplishments.  She reveled in Carolyn’s world travel in international peace, extolled Alexandra’s social work, celebrated Nicole’s education of the underprivileged, and full-on bragged about Braxton’s good nature and athleticism.  She was a good sport, and despite saying she would never answer to some ridiculous “grandma nickname,” when her first grandchild gurgled “Gom Gom” she proudly wore the moniker for 30 years.


Sylvia will be interred at a private ceremony at Bayside Cemetery in Potsdam, NY.  The family will hold an open house to celebrate Sylvia’s life on Saturday, October 22 from 10 AM to 2 PM at the home of Hyun Ju Williams at 10 Jerry Drive, Plattsburgh, NY.   All are welcome.  Contributions in her honor may be made to the ALS Association (

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