Sylvia Lydia D’Albergo Knudson, passed away on June the 3rd 2019 at age 99 after a full and satisfying life dedicated to her love of music, her family, and a quiet knowing that her God had and would always take care of her.
She was born Silvia Lidia D’Albergo on March 19, 1920 in Pachino, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy on a return visit to Sicily by her parents Arturo D’Albergo of Syracuse, Sicily and Angelina Machera of Palermo, Sicily. She was the youngest of six siblings including Elvira, Clement, Light, Andrew, Jean, and Sylvia. She loved her family and she missed them dearly, having outlived her last sibling by nearly 20 years.
She lived briefly in Birmingham, Galveston, Dallas, New York and Houston. She attended Ball High School, Galveston and Southern Methodist University, Dallas, where she was the first female fencing coach. She also taught fencing at The Hockaday School in Dallas. She received her Master’s in Music education from New York University, where she assisted Modena Scoville in teaching adult class piano. Music was her life.
Starting at age 3 she sang at her father’s church, the Italian Waldensian Church that met in the chapel next to the First Presbyterian Church in Galveston. While attending SMU she sang at the First Presbyterian Church in Dallas. She also performed in Summer Stock (musicals) in Dallas and sang at the First Presbyterian Church in Galveston. She also sang for the USO during the war, having noticed “all the boys just disappeared.” In New York City, she attended the Dramatic Workshop and the Amato Opera Workshop, studied voice privately with Vera Covert and Alfred S. Stohner, and studied piano privately under Roger Boardman. She sang at St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church in New York City and at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston.
She spent the majority of her career as a music teacher in the Houston Independent School District with many students benefited from her encouragement to attain high standards, with some performances involving as many as 1600 students. She always wanted to make sure Christ stayed in “Christmas” performances. She was also passionate about mentoring young teachers who, like her, had come from bilingual and multicultural backgrounds. Even after retirement, she taught nearly 100 students in private piano lessons. Many continue to enjoy the fruits of her labor of love as she encouraged them to “practice daily.”
In her 60s, she would jump off a catamaran and hold onto a rope as it barreled through the Gulf waters. Until her late 90s, she loved walking in her neighborhood and working in the yard — at age 98 she was still chopping bushes and at 99 she would still greet therapists at the door with a fencing sword in hand. Until her last weeks, she still played the piano for her friends at the assisted living facility. On the day before her death, she went outside to enjoy the sunshine and worshipped the Lord together with her friends at the retirement home.
Sylvia, or Nona, is survived by her son, Paul Arthur Knudson of Houston and his wife Janet Ann Acker Knudson of Milwaukee and their two daughters: Alexandra Anne Knudson and Elizabeth Ann Knudson Dekeyser with her husband Francois Dekeyser, and their children Emeline, Luca, and Eva Sylvia.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, each day Nona became “Nearer My God to Thee” and today she is still playing by ear and singing with her lifelong Friend who never abandoned her nor forsook her and who, in her words, was always working out everything for good.
Her Memorial Service will be at the Knox Chapel at First Presbyterian Church in Galveston Texas at 11:00 a.m. on Friday June 14th 2019. She will be interned next to her parents Arturo and Angelina D’Albergo in the historic Oleander cemetery in Galveston, Texas.