Sylvia Murphy Fanelli

Sylvia Murphy Fanelli was born in the hills of Kentucky in 1906. At age 26 she married Victor Fanelli, the son of recent Italian immigrants. Several years later they moved to rural North Central Florida which was to be her home until she passed away in 1976. Ten years after their marriage Victor suffered an appendicitis attack and soon died of complications.

The 36-year-old Sylvia suddenly found herself a young widow with five children under the age of ten. Living in her adopted state of Florida, she faced her challenge without the aid of a nearby family and without significant governmental assistance. She had an eighth-grade education, no skills, she never owned an automobile (and never had a driver’s license). Despite her obstacles, she managed to raise five children into responsible and productive citizens while modeling an incredibly positive attitude — it is an attitude that still lingers today among those who were touched by her.

Sylvia’s Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit, non-denominational organization chartered in 2002 with the mission of “making a difference for young widowed moms.” It is named in honor of Sylvia Murphy Fanelli and is dedicated to serving today’s “Sylvias” and their families.

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