September 18, 2020

Sylvia Perchlik

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 4:48 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik


October 22, 1935 – August 29, 2020
Sylvia Perchlik died in Bellevue, Wash., on August 29, 2020, from complications of a stroke and dementia; she was 84 years old.

Sylvia was born Sylvia Marston on Oct. 22, 1935 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to Frank and Rose (Wilberham)
Marston. Her sister, Rosalie, was born two years later. Sylvia graduated high school in Vancouver and took two years of classes at the University of British Columbia.
In 1952, while on a Mazatlán vacation, Sylvia met Richard Perchlik. After a
whirlwind romance, they married in Denver, Colorado, traveled for a few months, and moved to Boulder. In 1962, the couple settled in Greeley, Colorado, in a big historic home on 13th Avenue that was always a swirl of
activity. She lived there for 55 years, raising four children. Richard introduced Sylvia to the joys of camping, and the family pitched many tents together, interspersing these trips with visits to see family in Cleveland and Vancouver, BC. Sylvia hosted countless bridge parties and the big old house was the unofficial community center of the neighborhood. Richard passed away in 1988 from cancer.

Sylvia was an activist involved in many social and civic organizations. She co-founded the Greeley chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and always supported the Democratic party. She was an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greeley. Sylvia got her real estate license in 1976 and sold houses for the Greeley Century 21 office for many years.

When she was in her 50s, Sylvia attended a dance where she met her partner of many years, Stan Wilkes. They circled the globe together, dancing and hiking–from Alaska to New Zealand, Africa to China, and many points in between. Sylvia was an inspirational force in the Wilkes extended family. In 2015 after suffering a series of strokes, Sylvia moved to the Seattle area to be closer to family, who helped her navigate her last years.

Sylvia was known for making people feel welcome and for supporting their dreams. She is remembered as effervescent with a great smile, a bright sense of humor and had the ability to make friends everywhere she went. Colorado suited her well as she was always up for sharing an adventure to explore nearby mountains on skis or in hiking boots or watching a summer thunderstorm. Sylvia was an energetic, positive person who loved to travel and called any day good if it involved dancing–from disco and contra to jitterbug and ballroom.

Sylvia is survived by four children, Thomas, David, Laura Wheeler, Andrew, as well as her long-time companion and favorite dancing partner, Stan Wilkes, and his daughters, Sarah and Leah. She also leaves behind 11 grandchildren, three great grandchildren, three nephews, a brother-in-law and countless friends.

Family and friends plan an online celebration of Sylvia’s life on Saturday, September 26. For information about memorial plans email Thomas Perchlik or Laura Wheeler.

Donations in her memory can be made to the ACLU [], the UU Church of Greeley [] and Greeley Family House []


August 28, 2008

You Never Know

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 10:29 am by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

On Friday, my one day off in the week, our home phone rang.  Usually I find it best to ignore the phone on Friday or else it becomes just another work day.  But this call was about a funeral and I would never ignore someone in grief, and I worried about who might have died.  

It turned out that the call was not from a member or friend of my congregation.  It was from the brother of someone who had lived in Chicago, and who had never been a UU, but who had once said , “If I went to church it would be a Unitarian church.”  What is more: the service was the next day, and it was not in my town but in a smaller town some thirty minutes or so north of Muncie.  Well I was ambivalent but I said yes.  As I hung up the phone my wife said, “What?  You are adding to your work on the last day our daughter is in town?!”  (Our oldest is moving to Austin.) I argued that I already had three hours of work scheduled for that day, my sermon was in great shape, and I would not spend more than three hours on this service.

On the way there I hit a detour and almost got lost in the countryside.  I began to think that gas alone would take up a quarter of the honorarium, and I wondered if this was worth the trouble.  Happily, I made it with time to speak with the family, especially the brother who had called me, and to prepare my thoughts. 

The man who had died was a true activist: he had worked as a social worker and a labor union organizer and had marched with ML King and had been arrested in protests.  He was a quirky guy, intelligent, compassionate and dedicated to making the world a better place.  He had a sense of humor and a deep sense of hope.  He had loved a passage from Job (20:4,7) “Surely you know… that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts only a moment.  Though his pride reaches to the heavens… he will perish forever, like his own dung…”   

Perhaps if he had not found community in AA he would have made a perfect UU.  It was easy to evoke his values, his faith in humanity and a higher power, and his scepticism about religion.  It was easy to talk about the worth and dignity of every person and the essential unity of humanity.  My usual words about sorrow and gratitude seemed especially meaningful this time.  During the service one little boy burst into tears in his father’s lap.  We played a recording of John Lennon in the middle of the service, followed by wonderful, heart-felt sharing by some of those present, evoking his love for “Its a Wonderful Life” and the card game Euchre. 

Afterward the family seemed very moved by the service.  I stayed to tell the family I felt it was an honor to do this, and to talk about faith and hope and worship with some.  A few individuals came up to thank me, and to add to the honorarium!  I stayed to see the casket opened for the last time, and I almost went to tears seeing the loss of this person, who I had just learned about, so very tangible and present.  I felt I had done something with my day very worth doing: To help other people celebrate life, consider what makes life worth living, to offer hope, and laugh and cry together. 

As a minister you never know if something you do is worth doing. You never know exactly what your schedule is from week to week.  Usually when you schedule three hours of work it takes four.  But this past Saturday was one of those days that remind me why I am a Minsiter.