London to the canal to the rustic desert…
In the mid-1980s, a Londoner traded the excitement of one of the world’s most fascinating cities to the Panama jungle and then to rural Nevada.
It was in Nevada, though, where she discovered the rustic beauty of the desert and the magnificent sunsets that stretched across the Silver State. Sylvia Elizabeth Ranson, who spent 22 years in Fallon, will be able to watch those fabulous sunsets and sunrises from a grand perch overlooking the mountain peaks and winding rivers. After a lengthy illness, Sylvia died Oct. 14 just minutes after her family said their goodbyes via Zoom.
Sylvia was born in a military hospital in West Berlin, Germany, on Sept. 27, 1953, to Capt. Frank and Eleanor White. She was proud of her father’s 20-year career and his service during World War II as a British Army officer. Her mother had a career as a teacher. Sylvia and a younger sister, Barbara, attended both public and private church schools in the London
Sylvia entered the banking business in London during the 1970s and rose to the top as an international banker for Chase and then Deutsche Bank in the early 1980s. A chance meeting between her and a soldier who had finished his Adjutant General Corps officer training changed their lives. It was love at first sight when he visited London, and over the course of many months, they wrote letters to each other every other day and called weekly.
They married March 16, 1984, in Florida near Steve’s parents’ house. Stuart Kidd and his wife April drove from South Carolina to be best man and maiden of honor.
When Steve was offered a teaching job from the Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Panama, they decided to make an adventurous choice, packed their belongings and had them shipped to Panama. A cat and dog flew with them from San Francisco to Panama City.
During their two years in Panama, they had fun experiencing the life of Latin America. Steve was teaching at Balboa High School and serving with the U.S. Army Reserve at the Southern Command Network, Fort Clayton. On May 20, 1985, they welcomed their first child, a son, Thomas Joseph Ranson.
While in Panama, they also became active with the British community and attended a number of events. One of the highlights of their time in Panama was transiting the canal aboard the British destroyer, HMS Liverpool.
They lived 20 miles away from Panama City in a small canal dredging town of Gamboa rear the Rio Chargres River. The small American community formed a close bond with most of the residents living on “The Ridge.” It wasn’t unusual to see a sloth cayman or a poisonous snake in the neighborhood.
The family returned to Nevada in 1986 to be closer to family. Steve taught at Churchill County High School and Sylvia stayed home with Thomas. She also became interested in helping the Churchill Animal Protection Society by adopting a collie for Thomas and acting as a foster mother to several dogs who needed homes. She had a love for fur babies, and during the time the family grew, so did the number of cats and dogs. She loved German Shepherds and grew fonder of cats. Even in her final years, she rescued a German Shepherd who stayed by her side as a faithful companion.
David was born on Feb. 4, 1988, and Stephanie, her English rose, was born on March 26, 1991, coincidentally on the anniversary day of Steve and Sylvia’s wedding. Sylvia attended many youth baseball and softball games and soccer matches over the years. When Thomas was in sixth grade, she was the Orioles’ team mother, and she also was active with David’s teams. When the boys played Babe Ruth baseball, she rarely missed a game. She was in the stands for Stephanie’s elementary-grade volleyball matches or at the Lions Field for softball games.
Sylvia held one of the most respected jobs when the children were younger. She stayed home and taught them their basics before they entered kindergarten. Once all three children were attending school, Sylvia worked for the Churchill County School District as both a part-time and substitute aide. Later, she worked with the teenagers at the Stepping Stones youth facility.
During the children’s high school years, she supported them in their endeavors whether it was in athletics, music or class events. In 1990 Steve and Sylvia renewed their vows and also became active with several Fallon churches over the years. Six years later when the children were older, the family traveled to the United Kingdom for two weeks to see Sylvia’s
family, visit the sites in southern England and tour London.
The dynamics of the family, though, changed when Steve and Sylvia parted ways more than a decade ago, ending a fairy tale romance that began in London and took them to the other side of the world.
Although she moved miles away from Fallon, she continued to brag to others about her children. She would view family photos through social media and then have photos displayed in her home. She, too will be remembered by her children.
“You’ll forever be in mine and my family’s hearts,” David said. “Until we meet again, I love you mom and may you rest in peace and pain free!”
David and his wife Meagan talked about his childhood and his mother.
“I will continue to be by your side,” she said. “Thank you for sharing stories with us as a family tonight. It is easy to see how proud of you she was.”
Stephanie echoed David’s feelings: “Rest in paradise, momma. I will truly miss you! Just know you’re pain free and in a better place. I love you always and forever.”
Thomas said she was an inspiration to her grandchildren.
“We are indebted to you and what you’ve done for our family. We will miss you every day you’re not with us, but we also take comfort in knowing that you’re above the clouds, watching over us. Rest in peace, mom.”
Thomas’ wife Monica said the family has gained an angel, and the day of Sylvia’s passing has been painful. Yet, the family is also grateful for an angel who looked after Sylvia during her final years. “I feel only gratitude for the woman that raised the love of my life and in doing so, has given me
everything I love most. For that and many more reasons, I will always love you. You had a fierce heart, a love for animals that is truly unmatched and that feisty spark that I see in your granddaughters almost daily.”
Sylvia was preceded in death by her mother and father. She is survived by her adult children and daughters-in-law Monica and Meagan and grandchildren Kyra, Arabella, Ayden, Isabella and Brooklyn.
A small service will be conducted at a later date. She loved animals,
and in lieu of flowers, those who knew Sylvia can donate to CAPS (P.O. Box 5128, Fallon NV 89407) or a German Shepherd rescue. They can also adopt a fur baby to become their angel to a companion.