Sylvia Irene (Fowler) Kerley was born January 8, 1946 in Wigan, England. Her parents were Raymond Clayton Fowler and Irene Duck, who met while Clayton was stationed in England while serving in the U.S. Army. When Sylvia was five months old, her mother moved to Fort Smith, AR to join her father.
Sylvia was the oldest of her three siblings, Mance Wayne Fowler, Alan Fowler and Beverly Ann Fowler. They all attended DuVal School, Darby Junior High School and Northside High School in Fort Smith, AR. Sylvia graduated from Northside in 1964. After her graduation she worked at Miller’s Jewelry and Southwestern Bell Telephone as a long-distance operator.
Shortly after graduation she met her future husband, Ray, at Beverly’s Drive-in, which was the best place to socialize and meet new people. Harold “Ray” Kerley and Sylvia Irene Fowler were married at Midland Heights Methodist Church in Fort Smith, AR on June 30, 1967. After their marriage they moved to Waukegan, IL.
Sylvia got a job at Kupperman Furniture and the Beasley Waukegan Clinic. After spending 5 years at the clinic, she went to Victory Hospital Medical Records and during her six years there she became an Accredited Records Technician.
After several years of marriage, Ray and Sylvia were told that they couldn’t have children. They decided to adopt, but three days before their first interview they found out that Sylvia was pregnant. Their first son, Kevin Ray, was born in December of 1978. Two years later their second son, Kent Ryan was also born in December. Sylvia became a stay-at-home Mom to raise her boys. After the boys started school, Sylvia returned to the workforce in 1987. While she said she would never work at a nursing home, she took a position as Director of Medical Records at St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged, where she worked for twenty years.
Aside from working, Sylvia had several hobbies. She loved music and playing the piano. Using God’s gift, she played the piano wherever she was needed, including Sunday School and the International Order of the Rainbows. Later in life, she played for church services at Lake of Egypt Christian Church in Marion, IL. Even though the church didn’t have one she felt the Lord calling her to revive the choir. She was always proud of becoming their choir director without having any prior experience. She also really enjoyed sewing and quilting; she even made her own wedding dress while waiting for Ray to return from Vietnam.
Ray and Sylvia retired to Goreville, IL to be near Ray’s family. During retirement, they attended many southern gospel concerts across the country with special friends and were very involved with their church. While they always considered Goreville their home, eventually they moved to Wisconsin to spend their later years close to their sons and grandchildren. They were married fifty-six years before Ray died in November of 2023. Sylvia joined Ray with the Lord on February 3, 2024.
Sylvia was preceded in death by her husband, Harold Ray Kerley; her parents, Raymond and Irene Fowler, her sister-in-law, Ethel Fowler and her two brothers-in-law, Don and Ron Kerley.
She is survived by her sons, Kevin (Samantha) and Kent (Taylor); her grandchildren, Jaxson, Ashlynn and Atlee and her siblings, Wayne, Alan (Nancy) and Beverly.
Service Date February 24, 2024
SERVICE LOCATION Gilead Cemetery
Memorial services honoring Sylvia’s life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 24, 2024 at Gilead Cemetery, 4356 Gilead Church Road, Simpson, IL 62985.