Remembering Darrell Sy
Darrell Sy was a take-charge, dependable guy.
Being intelligent, decisive, rational and calm led him to spend most of his professional career as a school principal or superintendent and to serve on numerous committees and community boards. He was an administrator.
A man who played by the rules, he expected others to do the same. He demanded respect, accountability and responsibility. He stressed that actions should have consequences.
He and Teri met in Toledo, IL., where Darrell was already employed by the school. Teri was a job applicant. After the principal had hired Teri as a teacher, the principal told Darrell that he had just hired Darrell’s wife. Darrell seized on the opportunity, introducing himself to Teri, even before the school year began. In less than a year, they were married. Teri says Darrell always placed her on a pedestal.
As Darrell advanced his career, Teri and Darrell, along with their kids, Andrea and Ryan, moved several times to small Illinois towns, before eventually settling in Fairview Heights.
He spent countless hours at work and at meetings, or in preparation. He often swam multiple laps at the YMCA pool before beginning his work day at school.
Even when he was home, he was tinkering. He made speaker sound systems or framed photos or documents, and was frequently laminating and mailing something he thought would be of interest or value to the recipients.
Darrell was dedicated to his family. The family always knew that Darrell was encouraging, supportive and would do anything for them. Darrell used to say one of his favorite days was going to church and then going out to dinner with his adult children, and their spouses and children. He loved horseplay and roughhousing with his grandsons.
Darrell and I had a unique bond. We were the husbands of the two Sutphin girls.
As the outlaws, err in-laws, we frequently laughed at our inside jokes, that we kept just between us.
Darrell was the husband of my wife’s sister and best friend. He was also my friend and an integral part of my life. So much so, that he and Teri went with Denise and me on our honeymoon. Except for the intense sunburn all of us were too stupid to avoid, we had a great time on the Caribbean cruise.
Years later, after Teri’s father had passed, Darrell--- along with the three Sutphin women, Teri, Denise and their mother, Rita, all went to Hawaii. All report it was one of the highlights of their life.
While I’ll always remember the special events and shared joys and sorrows, I’ll miss the simple pleasures. Before the pandemic, Denise and I enjoyed going to lunch with Darrell and Teri. Darrell was a big tipper. Afterwards we would go to either our house or theirs, and maybe play cards or a board game. It always included updates on the family, good conversation, and a few laughs.
Darrell was a man of strong convictions.
He was a supporter of gun rights. He enjoyed the sport of target shooting. You always got the impression that not only did he know how to use a gun, but he would not hesitate to use it should he or a loved one be threatened. God may have mercy on them, but mercy would not have been Darrell’s intent.
Darrell was a devout Christian. He led the prayers when the extended family gathered for a holiday celebration meal. He said the final prayers at gravesites of loved ones. His emails were accompanied by a scriptural verse. He served on several church boards.
In retirement, he briefly attended classes to train to become a minister, before concluding that he simply wanted to live the life of a Christian.
Darrell was not always saintly. Sometimes he was a prankster. He had a dry, sharp wit, and sense of humor. He was not always politically correct, because he didn’t try to be.
He liked to tease and agitate. If you were a target, it showed that Darrell cared about you.
His favorite target was Rita. It was always done with an underlying sense of love and assurance that he could be counted on to assist with the routine or the extraordinary.
Darrell’s compassion and caring nature was exhibited through his volunteer efforts. He volunteered to visit hospital patients, including those who were gravely ill. I asked him why he volunteered for such a seemingly unpleasant task and what he said to the patients. Darrell replied he would mainly listen. He would try to assure them that God was with them, they were loved, and that their lives mattered.
I believe in Darrell’s final days, as a hospice patient himself and surrounded by family, he was comforted by similar thoughts.
Gary Clouser, brother-in-law