Sylvia’s story starts as the youngest daughter to Ezra Elroy Nielsen and Arvilla Harris Nielsen. Sylvia was born in Hyrum, Utah.
Later, the family moved to Duchesne, Utah, where Sylvia and her six siblings attended school. Sylvia’s dad trained show horses, and she helped him with chores and did competitive trick riding. In high school, Sylvia held the interstate championship in diving for two years.
When Sylvia was 18 years old, she met Lorin Zitting and fell in love. We all wonder how this happened because they were polar opposites. She was spontaneous and loved adventure, he was a steady homebody. But after a swift romance, they married on December 17, 1953, and made their home in Sandy, Utah, where they began their own large family.
They lost an infant son, Charles, shortly after birth, and their oldest daughter, Lorna, died of meningitis at age four. She later lost her beloved son, Clayne, in a trucking accident. In total, Sylvia gave Lorin six sons and six daughters.
Sylvia was a pioneer and led out courageously many times when Lorin took on projects. She first moved to Payson, Utah, and managed an orchard. Later, she moved the children to Colorado City, Arizona, and camped in a tent while Lorin built a permanent home. During this time, she took multiple jobs to put food on the table.
Sylvia also spent many hardworking years helping Lorin build Buckhorn Ranch, and for a few years managed commercial chicken coops in Enterprise, Utah, before moving back to Colorado City.
Sylvia was not afraid to work hard, and she taught her children the value of rising early to get their chores done so they could spend the rest of their day hiking the mountains above their home, riding horses or on cold days helping her put a jigsaw puzzle together.
Sylvia was not known for her domestic talents, but she sewed plenty when her children were young and she always had a meal on the table. Nor was she known for her patience. We all knew that when mom said move, we better already be running. She was known for being the fun mom. She taught us that dessert should come first, and ice cream on our cereal was a well-rounded breakfast. Sylvia made daily chores a race to see how fast we could finish, and she always had a reward at the end.
Her children remember the game nights, dancing to the music playing from one of the eight records she owned, roller-skating and helping her paint colorful dots on the laundry room floor to cheer the place up.
After her youngest, Nikki, was born, Sylvia earned her teaching degree and taught school for nine years. Sylvia and Lorin’s opposing natures finally caught up to them, and after 34 years they separated; but Sylvia’s love affair with ice cream lasted her entire life.
When Sylvia was 59 years old, she moved to Stockton, where most of her children had settled. In Missouri, she devoted her time to building the rural community, gardening, reading and traveling.
Sylvia’s love of ice cream finally caught up to her when she was diagnosed with diabetes. Although her poor health slowed her down, she still spent many hours reading, studying, putting jigsaw puzzles together and getting out with her daughters to watch a movie or play.
The family appreciates all who stepped in to help make Sylvia’s last years comfortable, and especially want to thank Evelyn for her devoted care to her mother this last year of declining health. Sylvia pioneered her way into death just as she had in life.
Our mom (or Aunt Syl to many) was fearless about stepping into the unknown and starting over. She was a passionate person and her display of emotions was unfiltered. She moved fast, taught through stories and had a deep love for her Savior. Sylvia was loved, is missed and will always be cherished.
Sylvia is preceded in death by her father, Ezra Elroy Nielsen; her mother, Arvilla Harris Nielsen; an infant son, Charles; her daughter, Lorna; her son, Clayne and siblings Robert, Noreen and Ivan.
Survivors include sister Geri Harding; brothers Wendell and Terrill; children, Gayle Roundy, Daniel Zitting, Thomas Zitting, Ned Zitting, Evelyn Hammon, Guy Zitting, Maria Bennett, Julie Zitting, Nichole Schifano; and many others who call her mom, friend, sister, teacher and grandma.
Sylvia has 62 grandchildren and 48 great-grandchildren.
Funeral will be held for extended family. All others may attend the viewing in Bland-Brumback Funeral Home from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, May 27.