Sylvia Mohr – “When the Deep Purple Calls”

Sylvia Mohr: 1921 – 2019

Sylvia Mohr crossed over the “evening garden walls” on August 13, 2019, to reunite with the one and only love of her life, Fred J. Mohr. She was 97. Even in the final months of her life, she could still regale her attendants with a rendition of “When the Deep Purple Calls,” her favorite song. The youngest of three children, Sylvia was primarily raised in the Washington, D.C. area, where her father, Cornelius Van Schelven, worked as a civil servant. Both of her parents were immigrants from Holland and instilled in her a lifelong adherence to the Republican Party. After graduating from high school, she moved to Philadelphia, where a military parade inspired her to join the WAVES. One recruit she met at boot camp piqued her curiosity about the Roman Catholic religion, and eventually she converted. While stationed at Norman, Oklahoma, she met a tall, handsome sailor of German-Irish extraction, and married him in Los Angeles on a brief leave in January, 1945. He remained in the U.S. Navy as an enlisted man for the next decade and a half, during which time he was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia; San Diego, California; and Oahu, Hawaii. “If you value your freedom, thank a veteran’s children.”

The family eventually relocated to San Diego, where she finished raising their six children, and went on to own and manage on a daily basis a liquor store in Imperial Beach, CA.. After selling the store, Sylvia and Fred enjoyed a decade of each other’s company without the arduous constraints of raising a family while serving one’s country. After his death in 1994, she concentrated on her garden, reading books, and helping to raise a granddaughter. She was preceded in death by her parents; her brother, Lt. Col. William Van Schelven; her sister, Martha G. Hill; and her dear childhood friend, Ruth. She is survived by her offspring: William, Constance, Jim, Joni, Joseph, and John, as well as four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. She is also survived by a niece, Pam H. Bump, and a nephew, Christopher Hill.

Services will be held at Fort Rosecrans in San Diego, where her urn will be placed next to Fred’s. Bill Mohr wishes to extend the family’s appreciation of the care and comfort Sylvia received, during her final three years, from all those who work at Sunrise Assisted Living in Seal Beach, CA, and Bel Vista Healthcare Center, Long Beach, CA. Without their cheerful endeavors, Professor Mohr would profoundly regret how the rigor of his obligations to perform committee work at CSU Long Beach, as well as give extensive service to the literary community of Los Angeles, would have disproportionately detracted from his desire to engage in solicitous attendance to her needs.

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The song my mother sang most frequently in her final years was “When the Deep Purple Calls.” For a quarter-century after her husband’s death, she yearned for him with all her heart.

Here is a rendition by Ella Fitzgerald.

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