Obituary of Sylvia M. Arms
Sylvia Medora Arms, 89, was born in Columbus, Georgia to Henry Thomas-Mitchell Palmer and Janie L. Palmer on August 24, 1931 at 9:45 PM. Sylvia was the eldest of three children, including her brother, Cecil Palmer, and sister, Edith Fariera. The family resided in the States of Georgia and Mississippi until they relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the Great Migration when from about 1916 to 1970 more than six million African Americans escaped harsh segregationist laws in the rural South and headed to the urban Northeast, Midwest and West. Sylvia was a member of the Ebenezer Seventh-Day Adventist Church of Philadelphia located on Christian Street. In her earlier years, Sylvia sang alongside Edith, as members of the Ebenezer Sanctuary Choir, under the direction of Gwen Foster, and with Cecil in the Young Adult Choir, renamed the Aeolian Choir, under the direction of Clarence Golbourne. Later, she regularly performed in the Handel's Messiah during the Christmas season under the direction of Gwen Foster. She attended and completed her high school education at the prestigious South Philadelphia High School for Girls. Musically gifted, Sylvia played the cello during her high school years. Moreover, she enjoyed playing the piano, following in her mother's footsteps who played for church services and at other events. Sylvia was a member of the Les Chers Amies, which means "The Dear Friends", an organized club comprising twelve ladies mostly from the Ebenezer Seventh-Day Adventist Church of Philadelphia. For over six decades, they shared many memories tied to their collective lives, family, and children. They traveled together, provided assistance to each other's children as needed, and celebrated Christmas at an annual holiday social during which they revealed each other's secret pal. Lois Hampton is the only surviving member of the club. While dating a young man named Emil, a United States military serviceman, a discordance between them arose and Sylvia told him to relay her contact information to someone else. Emil invited his dear military friend, Edward Arms (deceased July 2017), to correspond with Sylvia. In time, they both were enamored with Sylvia and asked for her hand in marriage. She conveyed this weighty dilemma to her father who wisely advised her to "marry the one who talks about his mother". On June 17, 1954, Sylvia married the love of her life, Edward, and both she and Edward remained lifelong friends with Emil and his wife until his passing. To Sylvia and Edward's divinely orchestrated union was born four children, including Andre and Arleen (twins), JoElla, and Nadine. Sylvia and Edward lived with their children in the City of Philadelphia for several years. She worked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard until the building of their family home was completed. In 1966, the Arms' family relocated to Newtonville, New Jersey. Edward, built their dream home on land that Sylvia's father acquired years before and bequeathed to her. Sylvia later worked at Oakcrest High School until her retirement. She worked with a long time friend, affectionately known as "Aunt Connie". Sylvia loved cooking delicious meals at home, canning, and baking cakes and pies, especially for large family gatherings. She spent time sewing, knitting, and crocheting, and playing puzzles and word and card games. Sylvia also loved traveling throughout the United States and abroad with family and friends, including Eva and Horace Jackson. "Aunt Debbie" worked as a travel agent; thus, Sylvia, traveled many places with her and other friends. Her son's vacation property in Mexico allowed Sylvia to visit the country often. She also delighted in cruising and joining her husband's countless fishing trips. Initially, their road trip accommodations were humble as Edward installed a bed and portable toilet in a van to make traveling more convenient. Then, they purchased a mobile home to make their excursions more enjoyable. Sylvia's father played an instrumental role in planting and constructing the First Seventh- Day Adventist Church of Newtonville where Sylvia and Edward devoted themselves as long-time members and her family still attends. Together, Sylvia and Edward also sacrificially invested in Christian education for their children who attended institutions, such as the Modern Miracle School, Almonesson Delaware Valley Junior Academy, Wisconsin Academy, Oakwood College (presently Oakwood University), and Andrews University. Although Sylvia eventually settled in the State of New Jersey with her family, she never abandoned her church family at the Ebenezer Seventh-Day Adventist Church of Philadelphia, and remained an avid participant in the church's Christmas socials hosted by Gwen Foster. Committed to carrying out the mission of the Newtonville First Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Sylvia served as a longstanding treasurer until medical issues prevented her from fulfilling the role. She also assisted her husband with the church's Fifty Plus Club. They enjoyed participating in the Fifty Plus dinner banquets during Allegheny East Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist's (AEC) annual camp meetings. She took pleasure in attending camp meeting on a yearly basis and stayed for the full 10-day duration, residing at the AEC cabins until they later primarily used their mobile home. For several years, Sylvia enjoyed preparing delicious meals for participants at the FIT 4 YOU Retreat, a 2-week AEC sponsored health camp, as Edward spearheaded transportation operations. They both tremendously enjoyed meeting new friends. On Thursday, April 1, 2021, Sylvia passed away peacefully in her home, surrounded by family. Sylvia leaves to cherish her memories four children — Andre Arms (Theresa Devonshire) of Edgewood, WA, Arleen Arms of East Windsor, NJ, JoElla Lingo of Newtonville, NJ, and Nadine Arms of Newtonville, NJ; grandchildren — Adrien Lingo (Stephanie Shaw), Syreta Evans (DJ Evans), Krystal Lingo, James Freeman (Shanya Freeman), Corynna Limerick (Gerard Limerick), Brandan Arms, AJ Sumbry II; 17 great- grand children; siblings, Edith Fariera and Cecil Palmer (Ruth Palmer); sister-in-love Janet Arms; a host of additional family members and dear friends. Due to Covid-19 the Church is only permitted to have 50 people, family & friends. Flowers and expressions of sympathy can be sent to JoElla Lingo, 925 Route 54, Williamstown, NJ 08094.