Nellie Mae Culpepper Sykes

May 3, 1933 - July 21, 2014
Nellie Mae Culpepper Sykes

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Nellie Mae Culpepper Sykes, 81, a resident of Williamsburg, Virginia, went to be with the Lord on July 21, 2014. She was born in Hickory, Virginia on May 3, 1933 to Alston and Lillian Culpepper. It was there she spent her childhood with her parents and two siblings Margret Ann Rhodes (Bill) and Alston Culpepper Junior. She graduated from Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia with a Bachelorís of Science degree in Education in 1955. Upon graduation, she began her career as an elementary teacher for Chesapeake Public Schools where she met a handsome New Yorker and the love of her life, John William Sykes. They were married on December 22, 1956. Nell and John moved to Williamsburg in 1962, where Nell taught 5th grade at Matthew Whaley School. The family moved to Queenís Lake in 1968 where she continued her teaching at York County Schools. She taught at Waller Mill Elementary School from the time it opened until her retirement in 1988. Her dedication to lifelong learning inspired a legacy of professional educators in her family, and touched the lives of countless students who carry with them the memory of her incredible wisdom and kindness.

She and John enjoyed traveling, gathering family together, spending time with friends, and giving back to the community. Nell enjoyed getting absorbed in a great novel, playing bridge with her friends, and attending church circle and P.E.O. meetings. Ever a compassionate and giving person, she delivered meals on wheels and volunteered with her church as an active member of Williamsburg United Methodist.

Nell was the loving mother of two daughters, Kimberly Sykes Pohto (Mark) of Poquoson, Virginia and Terrie Sykes Johnson (Jon) of Bossier City, Louisiana. She was also a proud grandmother of six: Andrew and Paul Pohto, Laura Johnson Hunstock (Drew), Sarah Johnson Chaudoir (Marc), Rachel and Julie Johnson.

She was preceded in death by her parents, brother, and husband of 41 years, John. Nell is survived by her sister Margret, her two daughters, Kim and Terrie, their husbands, and her grandchildren.

The family will receive friends from 4 ñ 6 PM on Thursday, July 24, 2014 at Bucktrout Funeral Home of Williamsburg. A service to celebrate the life of Nell Sykes will be held at 2PM on Friday, July 25 at Williamsburg United Methodist Church. Internment in Williamsburg Memorial Park will follow the reception.

Memorial gifts may be made to the American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association, or the Williamsburg Humane Society. The family wishes to extend their deepest gratitude to the nurses of the 3rd floor ICU and 4th floor north of Sentara Hospital of Williamsburg for the extraordinarily kind and compassionate care given to Nell in her final days.

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  • July 23, 2014
    Leslie Cyrus Pruitt says:
    Mrs. Sykes was my fifth grade teacher in 1976-1977. It was her inviting classroom and polite firmness (along with Jack Moye) that inspired me to go into the field of education. I can still recount all the books she introduced me to that school year! So sad to hear of her passing but glad to learn that retirement was good to her! My blessings to her family.

  • July 28, 2014
    Terri Collamore Cioch says:
    Mrs.Sykes was always one of my favorite teachers. I have never forgotten her through the years. My condolences to your family.

  • July 25, 2014
    Patti Hanafourde says:
    My deepest sympathies go out to Nell's family. Although I had not seen this fantastic woman since 1973, she was forever a part of me. I had the privilege and honor of team teaching with Nell at Waller Mill for the first two years of my teaching career. Her mentoring and kindness during those two years molded by teaching style. What a fantastic role model she was.I wasn't surprised to read how she had been spending her time since I last saw her. Kim, Terrie, and Margret, my prayers of comfort and peace are with you in the coming days and months as your sorrow is blended with loving memories.

  • July 23, 2014
    Judy Fuss says:
    Nell taught both my son & daughter in 5th grade. Her energy, enthusiasm & sense of fun made her a favorite for both. Her teaching skill, attention to detail & forthright communication endeared her to me as a parent. I again had the pleasure of working with Nell at the Williamsburg Regional Library after she retired from teaching.

  • July 24, 2014
    Patty Lampert Anderson says:
    Nell was my mentor during student teaching at Waller Mill. She then became a colleague and dear friend when I got my first teaching job. I cherished her friendship. What a wonderful lady; she will be greatly missed. My deepest sympathy to her family.