Obituary of Sydney Swann Williams Graff
Sydney Swann Williams Graff, 78, of Evington, passed away on Saturday, May 20, 2023 at
Lynchburg General Hospital, Lynchburg, VA. She was born in Richmond, VA, February 3rd, 1945.
Sydney is the daughter of Hugh Valentine Williams and Gwendolyn Swann Williams Bricker.
Preceding her in death was her brother, Hugh Valentine “Val” Williams of Mechanicsville; and former
husband, William R. Graff, of Huddleston. She is survived by her daughter, Elizabeth Michelle Graff
and her husband, Scott McLellan, their children Sean and Alex of Cary, NC; her son, William Jeffrey
Graff and his wife, Tracy, their children Sarah, Mark, and Andrew, of Forest, VA; and her “sister”
cousin, Nancy Lou Swann VanLandingham.
Sydney grew up on Gwen-Val Farm in Mechanicsville and attended Hermitage High School.
She graduated from the University of Richmond in 1967 with a BS in Biology and taught middle
school biology at Brookland Junior High. After moving to Lynchburg in 1970 and raising her kids, she
earned a BS in Nursing (1984) at Lynchburg College then worked in the cardiac step-down unit at
Virginia Baptist and at Feinman and Clark ENT. Sydney returned to school once again to earn an
M.Ed. in Agency Counseling (1993) at Lynchburg College and retired in 2013 as a Marriage & Family
Counselor. She was a homeroom mom, scout mom, and member of the New London Academy Board
Sydney was a caretaker, nurturer, and a kind, gentle soul. She had a passion for nature and
knowledge; she loved plants, flowers, and animals - both wild and domestic. She cared for her
friends, family, and those in need of an ear and a kind, thoughtful voice. She looked forward to the
annual return of her hummingbird family, and seeing new little ones each year. She always made sure
they, and every visitor, whether an animal or a person, were well fed & cared for.
She had fond memories of her travels, especially Ireland, tulips in Holland, and balloon rides in
Santa Fe and Forest. She talked frequently of her tours with her friends, train rides with her uncle and
later her children. She enjoyed trips to Williamsburg, and taking ferry rides across the James River as
a child with her aunt and again later in life with her grandchildren.
Sydney was a shining example of selflessness, always putting the needs of others before her
own. She focused her life on helping others learn to cope with their challenges and enjoy the beauty of the world around them. Throughout her life she was deeply affected by mental health issues,
especially in caring for her beloved brother. She would encourage anyone struggling with mental
health issues to seek help.
The family would like to thank all those who helped care for her in her final months, allowing
her to spend time at home.
Visitation will be on Saturday, June 3rd starting at 1 PM, followed by a Celebration of Life at 2
PM. A reception will follow. Services will be held at Diuguid Funeral Home, 21914 Timberlake Rd,
Lynchburg, VA 24502. Sydney will be buried at Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, VA.
Flowers are welcome. Donations in her honor may be made to your local animal shelter, the
Lynchburg Humane Society, or NAMI.org