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Evelyn Reid Syphax (3398 hits)

Evelyn Frances Reid, was originally from Lynchburg, Virginia and graduated from Virginia Union University in 1948 with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Language Arts. She earned her Master’s degree at New York University, and went into a career in education. In 1951 she relocated to Arlington County, Virginia, where she taught third and fourth grade classes as a language arts and reading specialist for twenty-five years.

In March 1956, she married Archie Douglas Syphax, Sr., who had broken the interracial barrier as Arlington County’s first African-American firefighter. The couple had two sons, the Reverend Archibald Douglas (“Doug”) Syphax, Jr., who was born on March 1, 1958, and graduated from VUU with a Bachelor’s degree (1997), and from the STVU with a Master’s of Divinity (2000); and Craig Custis Syphax, who was born on July 13, 1962, and now conducts the family’s real estate business in Northern Virginia.

In 1963, she founded the Syphax Child Care center, in 1966, the Arlington Montessori School, and the El Derlee home for seniors. Mrs. Syphax served on the Arlington County School Board from 1980-84 as the only minority representative, being elected Vice-Chair in 1981, and Chair in 1983.

An indefatigable advocate for volunteerism in community service, she became President of the Arlington Historical Society and helped found the Black Heritage Museum in Arlington. Mrs. Syphax held membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (and was for a time Mid-Atlantic Director), Links, Inc. (and was National Personnel Director), the Girl Friends, and the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Coalition of 100 Black Women (of which she was Founder and President).

In 1979, Mrs. Syphax became a member of the VUU Board of Trustees, serving as Honorary Trustee from 1999-2000. When her Alma Mater’s campaign to restore historic Coburn Hall (which had been gutted by fire in 1970) was having difficulties, Mrs. Syphax pledged one million dollars (at $100,000 annually over a decade), which finished the restoration of the Chapel by 1992. It was the largest single amount bequeathed to the University by one of the Alumni.

Mrs. Syphax passed away in March of 2000. Throughout her life, she maintained a love for little children and for teaching; and has been described by her son Doug as a “diligent church worker” who possessed “exceptional leadership skills”.
Posted By: Reginald Culpepper
Tuesday, November 29th 2005 at 6:54PM
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