Active, vibrant, and expressing everyday appreciations to her family even on her last evening, Sylvia was full of life. People remember her as beautiful, self-deprecating, entertaining, a wonderful listener, graceful, and always elegantly dressed in clothes she made for herself. She was a source of positive energy that drew people to her.
When Peter Winn, her future husband of sixty-one years, wrote to his mother about his decision to marry Sylvia, he said, “She is a tall and pretty girl. She doesn’t think she’s particularly good at anything, but she’s mistaken. She is unique and artistic, and excels at being a good person.” He was right. She practiced that skill in Cambridge, MA from 1954 until August of this year, when she enthusiastically joined the community of Newbury Court in Concord.
A volunteer for most of her life, she also worked at Hammond Real Estate, and ran her home as a B&B for the last two decades. Always in motion, Sylvia gave unstintingly of herself, particularly to her husband and children, as well as to several standard poodles through the years. She was equally generous to the many animals her children brought home – baby squirrels, rabbits, ducks, chickens, pigeons, lizards (known to climb kitchen curtains), snakes, rats, turtles, gerbils, and a crow who would sit on her shoulder and groom her eyelashes.
She was the kind of mother who would frequently bake treats for the neighborhood kids, and then join in the enjoyment of them. As a committee member of the Cambridge Mother’s Club, the Thursday Morning Talks, the Museum of Fine Arts, Mount Auburn Hospital, the Cambridge Homes, the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, and her “Brewster Village” neighborhood, she was a buoyant and gracious contributor to her community. She texted her family the night she died, saying, “I had a good day and got the best from it.”
The daughter of the late Kitty and F. Curtis Canfield of Amherst, MA, she was the mother of C. Bradford Winn of Plymouth, MA and Tracy Canfield Winn and her husband Joe Rigali of Concord, and the well-loved grandmother of Louisa Canfield Rigali of Cambridge. Sylvia was an active conservationist.