A Mass of Christian Burial for Rebecca Jane DeVillier Sylvester will be held at St. Landry Catholic Church in Opelousas on Tuesday, September 3, 2019 at 1:30 P.M. with Monsignor Russell Harrington officiating. The Rite of Committal will follow in Holy Sepulcher Mausoleum.
Mrs. Sylvester, 85, a native of Port Barre and longtime resident of Opelousas, passed away at her home, surrounded by her loving family, after a lengthy illness. She will be remembered for her vibrant, outgoing personality, her passion and advocacy for education, and most of all, her love and devotion to her family. She is survived by her husband of 62 years, Berchman Sylvester, 2 daughters, Elizabeth Jane Sylvester Bouterie and husband, Robert of Lafayette and Amaryllis Ann Sylvester Moreau and husband, Joey of Opelousas; 2 sons, Berchman Sylvester, II and wife, Leslie of The Woodlands, TX and Michael Sylvester of Opelousas; 11 grandchildren, Nicholas Bouterie, Rebecca Elizabeth Bouterie Lee, English Rebecca Sylvester Miller, Berchman Sylvester, III, Adam Sylvester, Christiane Sylvester, Madeleine Sylvester, Rhyn Sylvester, Brandi Sibley, Cody Sibley, and Blaise Sibley; 8 great-grandchildren, Isabella Bolivar, Vivian Bouterie, Mary Elise Bouterie, Zachary Miller, Adelyn Miller, Lincoln Miller, Berchman Sylvester, IV, and Jackson Sylvester; 2 brothers, Dr. Albert Berchman DeVillier of Poplarville, MS and John DeVillier of Las Vegas, NV.
Born Rebecca Jane DeVillier to Adam Cleveland DeVillier and Elizabeth Wyble DeVillier, in Port Barre, LA, she was the 11th of 13 children. At 5 years of age, her mother died tragically in an automobile accident on route to Port Arthur to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. Her share-cropper father was left with 13 children to raise, but with the help of the kind, generous community of Port Barre, all became successful adults. Mrs. Sylvester remained grateful to all throughout her life. Her favorite memories of childhood included walking 2 miles to Christmas Eve Mass and having hot eggnog upon their return home. She was extremely proud that her father taught her how to pick cotton, dig sweet potatoes, and drive the wagon while he broke ears of corn, although she was never allowed to miss school to assist in the fields. In addition, she participated in canning of fruits and vegetables with her family. Her chores included chopping wood to get a fire started for cooking and heating their home.
“Jane”, as she was called by her family, attended Port Barre Elementary and Port Barre High School, where she played basketball, was a majorette, cheerleader, a member of the Catholic Church Choir, placed first in The American Legion District Oratorical Contest, The VFW District Scholarship Contest, and won the title of Miss Port Barre in 1951, representing Port Barre in The Yambilee Festival. She graduated in 1952, then enrolled at The Southwestern Louisiana Institute, (presently UL) majoring in education. She worked her way through college by working in the speech department, the cafeteria, and was an assistant Huger Hall House Person. She was a member of Delta Theta Sigma, The SLI Red Jackets, Kappa Delta Pi National Honor Society in Education, Lambda Omega Honor Society for Women, and served as treasurer for The Women’s Student Government Association. She graduated in 1955 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education. In 1958 she received her Master of Education Degree in administration and supervision from LSU.
Mrs. Sylvester returned to Port Barre High School for her first year of teaching, also coaching girls’ basketball. She taught in other schools in St. Landry Parish for 7 and a half years and then taught junior high and high school speech and English literature at Opelousas Catholic School for 35 years. In addition to classroom instruction, Mrs. Sylvester worked with The Literary Rally and speech competitions. She was a member of The Classroom Teachers Association of St. Landry Parish and The Alpha Zeta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma International Society of Educators. She was honored as Outstanding Catholic School Secondary Achiever by The Diocese of Lafayette in 1989-90 school year. She ended her teaching career at 70 years of age.
Mrs. Sylvester was a voracious reader and an avid sports fan. Above all, however, her greatest love was that of her family; from weekend barbeques to playing football and baseball in the backyard with her children, then grandchildren, to attending many of their sports games, being Girl Scout Leader, Boy Scout Den Leader, introducing all to her favorite books, and correcting their grammar until she could no longer. She was a true matriarch and has left an indelible mark on every life she touched.
Mrs. Sylvester was preceded in death by her parents, 6 brothers, Dr. J. Lincoln DeVillier, Leon Fabian DeVillier, A. Floyd Devillier, L. Sherman DeVillier, Joseph Claude, “J.C.” DeVillier, and James Devillier Richard; 4 sisters, Myrtle Marie Daspit, Anna Lee Vidrine, Shirley Mae Sprotti, and Gertrude Beryl Fontenot.
Pall Bearers will be her grandsons. Vocalists will be granddaughter, English Sylvester Miller and great-granddaughters, Adelyn Miller and Mary Elise Bouterie, accompanied by relative, Andrea Perry Pitre.
Visitation will be observed at Lafond-Ardoin Funeral Home of Opelousas, beginning Monday, September 2, 2019 from 3:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. and will reopen at 8:00 A.M. until time of service. A rosary will be held at 6:00 P.M. on Monday by Deacon Sammy Diesi.
Family, friends, former colleagues, and students are invited to view and sign the guest book at www.lafondardoin.com. Lafond-Ardoin Funeral Home of Opelousas (2845 S. Union St. Opelousas, LA 70570, 337-942-2638) has been entrusted with the arrangements.