Sylvia Jane East: She left ‘like a sudden swift breeze’

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Obituary for Sylvia Jane East

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
—Robert Frost

Our hearts are forever broken as our sweet little girl has been called away from this world much too soon. Sylvia Jane East entered our lives like a bolt of lightning on a sunny summer day in June 2009, in Fortuna, California, and left us on April 21, 2018, like a sudden swift breeze. We knew she was a special girl from the beginning. Our Syl was incredibly kind, gentle, empathetic, and always sought to bring comfort to others. She was always humming and singing and made friends easily. She was generous, clever, spirited, full of opinions, and possessed a decided sense of style which she referred to as “Sylvia Style.” She loved all animals, even skunks, but especially cats and her dogs Roxie and Gunter and her dog friends Mo, Harry Potter, Sadie, and Angel. She was a prolific and talented artist with words and with images and she created art every day.

Sylvia loved playing with her older brother Freddy, riding bikes with her Daddy, and cooking and cuddling with her Mommy. She loved reading, even if she had to break the bedtime rule and use a flashlight under the covers. She had a rich imagination and spent many hours playing with toys and dressing up, making up stories in all her favorite genres – action, adventure, comedy, drama.

She loved camping, and would always bring at least one suitcase full of stuffed animals to play with in the tent. She loved helping her Boppa plant the garden each spring, sometimes showing up ready to help out dressed in a tutu and her rubber boots. She loved going out to eat at Star’s and Liu’s and going to Booklegger or the County library to find a new book to read. Syl also loved playing the video game Terraria.

Sylvia is survived by her loving Mommy and Daddy, Julie and Robert East; by her adoring big brother Freddy; by Mimi and Boppa, Judy and Larry Moranda; by Nana and Papa, Barbara and Jack East; Aunt Susan Moranda; Aunt Frances and Uncle Bruce Tjarnstrom; Aunt Kaycee Cook and Uncle Michael East; Uncle Tim East; cousins Justin Moranda, Emily Scilacci, and Nora and Vincent East; Aunt Tracy East; and by great aunts, great uncles, and cousins locally and across the country. She will also be missed by the teachers, staff, and many friends of the Pine Hill/South Bay School community and her Humboldt Crossfit family. She had too many friends to list, but some of her most cherished were Larissa and Alicia, Abby and Rosie and Sarah, Aubrey, Violet, Claudia and Ronnie and Charlie, Scarlett, Alyssa, Lilly, Isabella, Mia, Citlaly, Gabriella, and Sophia.

To honor Sylvia, please hug your loved ones a little bit tighter. Smile. Laugh. Be kind. Paint your toenails. Dress up in fancy clothes or a Halloween costume for no reason. Don’t be afraid to get dirty and muddy. Reread your favorite books. Pick flowers and give them away or wear them in your hair. Eat berries by the cupful. Love with abandon.
A memorial celebration of Sylvia’s life will be held Saturday, May 5, 2018, at 2:00 PM at the Sequoia Conference Center in Eureka. If you plan to attend, please wear something pink or purple. And if you have some pink flowers blooming in your yard, please bring one or two to share. We will have vases.

Sylvia’s family would like to thank the US Coast Guard, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department, the St. Joseph Hospital Emergency Room staff, and all the first responders and caring bystanders who tried to help save our girl. You are all heroes. Special thanks to St. Joseph Chaplain Larry Beck, Deputy Sheriff/Coroner J. Barney, and Chuck Ayres for their compassion.

Contributions in her memory may be made to the Sequoia Humane Society, Doctors Without Borders, Heifer International, or a charity of choice. In addition, a memorial fund in Sylvia’s name is being established at Humboldt Area Foundation to help local children.

Rest well, little one, we love you and will miss you forever.



  • Taurus Ballzhoff

    So beautiful,

    Such a short time.

    My sadness won’t express,

    My heart shattered.

  • Sweet girl, this will never make sense to me. I don’t know you, but wish I had, wish the world had been given your presence longer because, my, what you would have done!

    Sending love to your parents and especially your brother. Knowing wing that she’s up in Heaven now, a place with no tears or pain, may you absorb Sylvia’s warm earth spirit and loving heart and love it out in your lives.

    I’m so incredibly sorry. My heart breaks.

  • My heart is with you, the East family, and Sylvia today.

    I hope you all find peace in life after such a tragic event.

  • She sounds like an angelic being, full of life & imagination & caring.
    I would like us to hold the county supervisors’ feet to the fire until they put up 3 huge signs at Big Lagoon:
    “DO NOT ALLOW YR CHILD IN the OCEAN at THIS BEACH. NO Adults in the ocean at this beach either.”
    This has gone on for decades.

    • Words cannot express the sorrow. But I am Abby, Rosie and Sarah’s grandma. I know the truth of your words describing Sylvia’s spirit by how she treated my granddaughters. May your memorial words serve as a guide for us all in how to be better in life, as she certainly captured the essence of love and joy. God grant you peace in remembering her life.

    • Amén. We had the same experience years ago, same place, sneaker wave that took two adults and four youngsters under water. We all survived, thankfully, but at the very time a life was lost at the South spit. I am so sorry, words cannot express my feelings. Your daughter looks Angelic, I know she is and our little Angel in Heaven. I am all for signs in that area that someone suggested. God Bless your family.


  • My heart aches for all families. Sending much strength and love Julie and Frannie. Peace and Hugs xoxo

  • Tiffany McLearn

    Too the family. Your in my prayers. I lost a little boy so I know your pain and shock. So sorry this has happened.

  • Just seeing her picture is heartbreakingly sad. My deepest sympathies to her family. I ache with you.

  • Oralee McAlexander

    Our hearts are breaking with yours 💔💔💔💔 our deepest condolences to you and your family. May the Lord lift you up & comfort you in your time of sorrow.

  • Kimberly Buckmaster

    My sweet little cousin you will missed. Your time on this earth was done and now your love is shining down on us all from above. So much love for you. I will miss poking you in the ribs and the looks you would give me. Love you and miss you! Love Kim, Haley, Casey and Great Aunt Vee.

  • The sorrow you are feeling has to be unbearable, no words can comfort you in this time of loss.
    Sharing your sorrow and loss somehow helps all of us realize the value of life and how truly short and can be.
    Thank you for sharing the beauty of your daughter, I hope peace finds you.

  • Our family is so sad to hear of the loss of this beautiful little light. I have a private message for family, just a personal sharing I feel called to offer if appropriate, through my email or Facebook private message. Sending healing prayers to you all, and Angels go with Sylvia.

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you and your family. My heart breaks for you. I’m crying as I’m writing this message. Even though I don’t know you , I send love and prayers for you and your family. I have a daughter that’s close to your daughters age, which makes me realize how short and precious life can be. Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories of your daughter.

  • So sorry so sad ,for all affected RIP sweet little girl again I’m sorry for your great loss .

  • Alan Van de Water

    Your family is in my heart and thoughts every day.

  • Sylvia certainly crammed a lot of life and character into her 8 years. I enjoyed reading all of her wonderful antics and loves. I only wish she could have remained to continue her adventures and kindness. I’ll make sure I will do something spontaneous to remember her this coming Saturday.

    May God grant you peace that transcends your very great loss. Much love from Australia.

  • Sending lots of love and healing for the entire family!! This sweet girl touched my daughters heart! Not a day has gone by that she doesn’t think of her and miss her dearly. So heartbreaking for everyone affected by this, I didn’t know her well but she did attend a bday party and was so sweet and kind. She was a good friend of hers♡ a beautiful life taken way too soon. Rip sweet angel.

  • This is heart wrenching. R.I.P. little darling. My condolences and prayers of comfort to your loved ones.

  • Life is good OG

    Such a beautiful little girl. My heart is with this family.

  • So heartbreaking,.. this beautiful little girl deserved a long, happy life… I can’t imagine what her loving parents are going through but I appreciate the way you posted this Kym it’s so.devastating but I feel like you handled it with complete compassion

  • I am so very sorry for your loss! Our love and prayers!

  • People are not aware that ANY beach that is short and steep will have an impossibly dangerous shore break. Anyone sucked out will be subjected to a savage washing machine effect, which has the capacity to drown a dog or a person before our eyes. I don’t know what happened in this instance, but I agree that special signs( in places like the Big Lagoon Beach and other steep shore breaks), that spell out that this is not just any beach. It is not Moonstone, for instance. It is very different from most Central and So Cal beaches. Few words and lots of CAPS and very carefully composed sentences are in order. Donations for that effort would be very much to the point.

  • My prayers go out to her family and friends. I can not imagine the pain they must feel, I do pray they find peace. God bless.

  • prayers to the family n friends.i know the pain all to doesent just break your heart it hurts your soul.time will help but never heals.god bless.

  • I’m terribly sorry for your loss, as a parent I can imagine what your family has been going through. The void created can never be filled but may your hearts someday find peace again. Thank you for your words and advice. I will do as directed.

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