Sydney Van Voorhees, b. Honolulu, HI Nov. 15, 1946, d. unexpectedly in Walnut Creek, CA
April 26, 2016. Sydney was the much-beloved widow of John A. Layser, fiancé of Paul Wilson,
and left behind daughters Susan Layser and Felicia Layser Robertson and their children Melissa
Layser, Connor and Ava Robertson, and son-in- law Sean Robertson.
As a young person Sydney lost her two brothers in separate accidents, becoming the last
surviving child to her mother Virginia Voorhees. She joined the Peace Corps at nineteen, who
sent her to the African nation of Chad to teach English and French. Chad at the time was often
involved in military skirmishes on its borders. While there she hiked frequently, one day taking a
bullet in the arm that was non-life threatening. However, the doctors determined that it was less
of a threat to leave it there than to remove it, hence a great story and source of admiration to her
new stepdaughters about a decade later.
Sydney lived in Portland, OR until marrying John Layser in 1977 when she moved to Seattle.
Later they relocated to Mukilteo, WA. John died in 2001, and the rest of the family eventually
persuaded her to consider moving down to the Bay Area to be closer to them. She visited fairly
often, and as luck would have it Felicia introduced her to a family friend and widower Paul who
she fell in love with and planned to marry May 15, 2016. Together, she and Paul planned to
grow old together and she looked forward to calling the Wilson and Veitch clan her family.
Sydney was a long-time administrator for the Everett, and Edmonds, WA public school districts
for many years until her retirement, where she specialized in helping students with serious
behavioral issues. She was loved and treasured by her colleagues.
After retirement Sydney, no sloucher, decided to take up not one hobby, but three: golfing, hula,
and sailing. Though sad to leave her hula family in Washington, she quickly found a new family
to join at Rossmoor and continued to perform. We will miss her smile and her light that shined
when she danced.
We who love her are devastated. In lieu of flowers, please give in Sydney’s memory to
KQED, Bailey-Boushay House of Seattle and Grays Harbor Community Foundation of