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Phyllis Gibbs Sidorsky

phyllis  sidorsky

October 10, 1927 ~ December 30, 2023

Born in: Passaic, New Jersey
Resided in: Alexandria, Virginia

Phyllis Gibbs Sidorsky passed away on December 30 in Alexandria, Virginia.  She is predeceased by her loving husband Raymond Sidorsky and their daughter Erica Sidorsky  and  survived by her nephew Victor Humphreys (Illinois) and nieces Monica Grant (Illinois) and Ellen Plaza (Texas) and her family.  She was born October 10, 1927, in Passaic, New Jersey and grew up in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.

Phyllis Sidorsky graduated from Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA where she met her husband in college theater productions, Phyllis in the cast and Raymond the stage manager.   They married and she followed him to Ohio State on his graduate research and on to his various stations in the U.S. Army.  His occupation took them to Connecticut where daughter Erica joined them and eventually to Old Town Alexandria VA, where they bought a home on Captains Row and lived for 40 years.

Early on, Phyllis was a social worker, but following a long-time involvement with and support of libraries, she obtained a Masters in Library Science at The Catholic University of America.   She became a librarian at the National Cathedral School for twenty years, where her students affectionately called her Mrs Sid.  Phyllis invited notable children’s book authors to visit the Lower School Library for talks with the students and was an active member of the Childrens Book Guild.

Phyllis was a prolific reviewer of children’s books.  Her reviews appeared in The Washington Post, New York Times, and various professional journals, including the School Library Journal and Childhood Education.  Phyllis served on the Notable Books Committee, which selected best books of the year on behalf of the American Library Association. Summer days often found her at their cabin in Baker, West Virginia, where she read and wrote reviews of children’s books.

She loved painting at her home in Old Town or while traveling the globe.  She undertook American colonial theorem work—watercolor painting decorative traditional patterns on trays and fabric and stenciled borders on the wall in their colonial era home on Captains Row.   That and a love of gardens and gardening  were shown in Old Town’s Home and Garden Tours early on.  Phyllis was very active in many organizations, including the Herb Society of America and Meals on Wheels.  Bringing together her varied artistic and creative abilities, she received the Herb Society’s Joanna McQuail Reed Award in 2018 for the artistic use of herbs.

Her love of travel led to a long life of extensive travel national and international alike, including volunteer work on Native American reservations in Arizona and sitting in duck blinds in absolute silence long before dawn to see and hear sandhill cranes in Nebraska and south Texas.  She traveled extensively in South America, Africa, and Eurasia and north of the Arctic Circle with her extended family, with her husband and daughter, and later in life often by herself as he became less able to travel.  In recent years, they and then she became a fixture seen every day walking their rescue greyhounds on Captains Row and nearby streets of Old Town.    An inurnment to join her husband will be held at Arlington National Cemetery Columbarium at a later date.

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  1. I am so grateful for the life of this radiant woman. She introduced me—among thousands of others— to many powerful and lovely children’s books; she spread kindness and good cheer in the NCS Lower School. She was active in the Episcopal Church and attentively followed the admonition to seek and serve Christ in all persons. She blessed this earth.

  2. What a lovely tribute. I met Phyllis many years ago when walking my greyhound and we became fast friends. She was a very special lady.

  3. Mrs. Sid was so kind to me when I first came to NCS – I think it was the same year for both of us. Many librarians I have known are saints. Mrs. Sid was surely one of them. She had magic with young children. No finer human being ever walked the earth.

  4. Phyllis and l were close friends for more than 40years living on our beloved 100 block of Prince St.
    One of the most positive and full of life, talented people l ever knew. It was an honor to help her and Erika manage the difficult downsize of her beloved Americana treasures and move to The Fountains at the end of 2019
    I wish l had just one more visit with you to just visit pass away a couple wonderful hours . One of a kind…a true class act that will be missed . We are so much better for having been in your circle.


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