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Sydney Elwood Schmedes Dies in New York

Sydney Elwood SchmedesThe family of Sydney “Zeke” Elwood Schmedes sadly announces his passing on April 19 in Staten Island, N.Y. Sydney was born on Sept. 26, 1933, to Wilfred Elwood Schmedes and Emmeline Adina Malone Schmedes, and was raised on St. Thomas, VI. While growing up, Sydney excelled in mathematics, ran track, was a devoted Boy Scout leader, and served as an altar boy at the Anglican Church. He graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School and was a member of the CAHS Class of 1951.
He left St. Thomas to serve in the United States Air Force, where he trained as an air traffic controller and aircraft mechanic, and traveled in the southern United States, California, Asia, Japan and Korea during the Korean War. Sydney later graduated from Boston University College of Engineering with a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Technology and later obtained a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Goddard College in Vermont.
Sydney returned to St. Thomas in the early 1960s and was employed by WAPA as an engineer and at Charlotte Amalie High School as a mathematics teacher before he returned to the states and settled in Staten Island, N.Y., where he raised his family.
He worked for the New York City Department of Social Services for 34 years, where he held a variety of leadership positions until his retirement in 1994. Upon his retirement, Syd returned to doing what he loved: teaching and tutoring young people in mathematics at the Fellowship Baptist Church’s afterschool program and singing with the Brighton Heights Reformed Church Men’s Chorus.
Sydney enjoyed and cherished his friendships and retained many of them over his lifetime. He was a vibrant person and fun to be around; he enjoyed a good debate on politics, race, culture, history and religion, and he was also a master storyteller often recalling memories of his friendships and life on St. Thomas. Sydney also painted, studied jazz, attended the theatre and was a lifelong learner.
Sydney is predeceased by his parents: Wilfred and Emmeline Schmedes: brothers: Viggo and Leslie Schmedes; and special aunt, Blanche Malone Frazer.
He is survived by his wife, Yvonne Leveth Schmedes; his daughters and sons: Genoux “Gigi” Schmedes Baez, Jenee Johnson (Claudius), Yvette Gilliard (Jackie), David Gaskin (Wanda) and Daryl Gaskin; grandchildren: Dean Gaskin, Candace and Cameron Gilliard, Khalid Edwards, Taasia, Safia and Esiah Haakmat-Baez; four great grandchildren; brother, Fritz Schmedes; and sisters: Florence Schmedes Cirino Lewis and Julia Schmedes Moore.
He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Darlene Schmedes; a host of nieces and nephews including Nilda Cirino, Livia Turnbull-Rhymer and Elba Cirino Richardson; great nieces and great nephews; special cousins: Wilbur, Kevin, Bornell, Aubrey and Brian Frazer, Myron Jackson and Sharon Jackson McDonald; lifelong friends: Don and Jean Gibbs; and members of the CAHS Class of 1951.
A celebration of Sydney Schmedes’ life was held on May 1 in Staten Island, N.Y. Further tributes for Sydney can be viewed and posted on www.dignitymemorial.com/harmon-funeral-home/en-us/index.page

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