May 24, 1950 – February 27, 2017
The Wheaten world lost a brilliant being of light this year. Jody Sylvester fought valiantly against the ruthlessness of pancreatic cancer. She gave it her all, drawing strength from the words of Rachel Platten’s Fight Song. “This is my fight song, Take back my life song, Prove I’m alright song, My power’s turned on, Starting right now I’ll be strong, I’ll play my fight song, And I don’t really care if nobody else believes, ‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.”
But in the end, this dread disease took her anyway.
Jody took pride in being a Scottish Highlander, and when she found a rendition of Fight Song performed in the Scottish Northern Highlands by Bagpipers in kilts she posted it on her Facebook page (November 7, 2015) with the notation, “I can’t tell you how moving it is to be not only mostly a Highlander, but a (cancer) fighter as well. Hope you find something personal and strong in this beautiful music and place.” The group themselves had earlier commented, “When we first heard Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” we were inspired by its message. In a world where we too often talk about our differences, we have at least one thing in common. We all struggle. Not in the same way, nor at the same level, but we all want a fighting chance. And we all share in one gift: The will to make the most of our lives.”
There can be no doubt that Jody made the most of her life. A spirited, and at the same time gentle, soul resided in that beautiful body of hers. As many of us within the Wheaten world are aware, Jody Sylvester was the gift that kept on giving. A talented artist and gifted graphics designer, she was also a lover of all animals and of life itself.
When she and I met, Jody was already much beloved by St Louis Wheatendom. We came together in mid 1989 when she and her Soft Coated Wheaten, Justin, welcomed Folly (Gleanngay Follow My Lead) into their lives. Jody adored Folly, and saw to it that she quickly gained her championship with Elaine Azerolo piloting her around the show ring. Folly made Jody proud as a special as well. But our relationship flourished when, in 1991, Emily Holden, then president of SCWTCA, asked me to produce an illustrated standard for the club. I in turn commandeered Jody to do the artwork. It took the two or us a year of painstakingly “snail-mailing” drawings back and forth (Those were the pre-Photoshop days!) to finally put together what has been called by many one of the best Illustrated Standards ever produced. Because of this work, Jody’s talents were in constant demand by not only our national club but local clubs as well. And Jody never once said no! Shortly before her death she wrote, “…I feel like I am forgetting things because I have done so much art for local clubs too. … I treasure what I did because of the wonderful friends I made in the National and St. Louis Clubs and selfishly because my own dogs– Justin, Folly, Nimue and Hamish were not only often my sweet models but always my inspiration.”
Her gentle spirit is reflected in a Facebook posting on March 8, 2016, that accompanied this photo:
I have no doubt that Jody’s indomitable spirit is floating magically over the moors of her beloved Scottish Highlands and in my heart, I know she is happy and at peace there.
— Gay Dunlap
Gallery of Jody’s Art
A view of some of Jody’s amazing artwork. If you have photos of Jody’s work that you’d like to share, please email your images to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration to be added to the gallery.