The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 9, 2014

Sylvia Sue Edstrom

PRESQUE ISLE, Wis. — "Dancing on the Wing"

Sylvia Sue (Bruff) Edstrom, of Presque Isle, Wis., passed away peacefully in her home, surrounded by her family on Jan. 7, 2014, at the age of 80. A beacon of light, Sylvia Sue Edstrom was a mom, loving wife, artistic creator, life adventurer and Sylvia always wore a smile and gave big hugs.

Sylvia journeyed a full and accomplished life - from raising four successful children to co-founding Edstrom Industries to creating passionate irreplaceable art and continually "making people smile". Sylvia blazed a trail of talent, hugs and sparkly-charm that left no soul untouched. Known for her "Sylvia-ism's", outgoing personality and newsletter-writing flair, Sylvia's life resonated with one-of-a-kind expressions and pure happiness. Sylvia's favorite motto: "Are we having fun yet?!"

Sylvia's Story: "Dancing on the Wing"

Sylvia was born in Columbia, Mo., on July 15, 1933, to James Vance Bruff and Vestana (Johnson) Bruff. An only child, Sylvia grew up in Joplin, Mo., graduated from Joplin High School, attended Joplin Community College and at the age of 58, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wis. (1991).

It was in Joplin that Sylvia met her future husband, William "Bill" Edward Edstrom. Sylvia and Bill were married on March 26, 1954 in Milwaukee. They moved to Waterford, Wis. in 1960, where together they raised four children, Cynthia, William Jr., Arthur and Eric.

Along with their four children, Sylvia and Bill raised chinchillas at their farmhouse in Waterford, where a growing herd of thirsty chinchillas led Sylvia and Bill to found Edstrom Industries in 1969. Edstrom Industries created an automatic watering system for chinchillas and has grown today into an international business with over 250 employees. Sylvia was instrumental in the success of Edstrom Industries traveling the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan to help land customers.

At age 58, after earning a bachelor degree in fine art from Alverno College in Milwaukee, Sylvia created extraordinary paintings and art pieces. Originally schooled in the "art of natural talent", Sylvia's technical horizon expanded with her studies at Alverno College. Sylvia was an accomplished and gifted artist, though she could not bare to part with any of her creations unless she made them for someone as a gift. She was honored with the prestigious Alverno Exemplar Award in 2013.

Not only was Sylvia a mom, loving wife, business co-founder and talented artist, but during her lifetime, she also became a certified scuba diver, a licensed pilot ("dancing on the wing"), and traveled the world extensively. Her travels included all of the USA, Europe, Japan, Easter Island, Egypt and South America; she also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, rafted the Grand Canyon, floated down the Amazon and up the Nile, plus her favorite, winter getaway: St. Croix, Virgin Islands. She loved to exclaim that she never expected to travel beyond Missouri, and "look at all the places I've been!" Never one to sit still, Sylvia was a lover of music, she played the drums and clarinet in high school, the piano in church, wrote poetry and she handmade all varieties of handcrafted things. She was a master at knitting, tatting and embroidery, to name a few of her artistic skills. Sylvia had an amazing green thumb and was passionate about her plants, tenderly caring for her "indoor jungle". Sylvia was a work of art herself and she dressed to make a statement, including sparkly adornments and rainbow colored toenails.

Retiring with her husband, Bill, to a cabin in the North Woods (Presque Isle) of Wisconsin in 2001, Sylvia was best-known for her continuous smile and outgoing personality. Sylvia quickly made friends with anyone she encountered and she was full of life and quick-wit humor. Anyone who met Sylvia learned about her life story, her kids, grandkids and how much she loved living in the north woods. She was full of gratitude for her marriage, life and their Ford Model A Club friends.

Despite all the amazing things Sylvia did and experienced, she was most proud of her "four wonderful children" and that she had chosen such a wonderful husband as Bill.

The people she touched will miss her deeply and we are celebrating her life and will always remember her smile and grand hugs. Sylvia believed in God and heaven. She fully expected to go to heaven and knew it was her time to go. Sylvia did go, but reluctantly, because she loved her life on earth.

Sylvia is survived by her husband of nearly 60 years, William "Bill" Edward Edstrom Sr., of Presque Isle; daughter, Cynthia Sue Edstrom and husband, Steve Moore, of Kalispell, Mont.; son, William Edward Edstrom Jr. and wife, Mari Edstrom, of Milwaukee; son, Arthur Vance Edstrom and fiancée, Kathleen Blackwell, of Austin, Texas; and son, Eric Kent Edstrom and wife, JJ Fredrickson, of Burlington, Wis. Sylvia is the proud grandmother of Andrew, Toma and Ella Edstrom and Gerick and Ashton Moore. She will be missed by her numerous friends from the "Up North Model A Club", and many other friends and family, and last, but not least, by her dog, Lil' Fella. Sylvia was predeceased by her parents, Vestana (Johnson) Bruff and James Vance Bruff.

Memorial service will be held at Bolger Funeral's Woodruff Chapel, 1212 First Avenue, Woodruff, WI 54568, 715-356-6006, on Saturday, Jan. 11. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m. and service at 2 p.m. Graveside service and interment will be in Rochester Cemetery in Rochester, Wis., on Jan. 13,  at 10 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, Sylvia's family suggest a donation to Ministry Home Health Hospice Services, P.O. Box 770, Woodruff, WI 54568, "In memory of Sylvia Edstrom".

Sylvia will be remembered for her vivacious love of life, her wonderful precious smile and her favorite life theme... "Are we having fun yet?!" Sylvia loved an excuse to have a party and get together with people, today is no exception: In loving celebration of Sylvia Sue (Bruff) Edstrom... dancing on the wing.

Bolger Funeral and Cremation Services, of Minocqua and Woodruff, is assisting the family.

Online condolences may be shared at

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