Sylvia H. Button

September 19, 1932 - August 28, 2021

Sylvia (Harlan) Hartley Button passed away on August 28, 2021. The only child of Ward and Marjorie Harlan, Sylvia was born in Scottsburg, Indiana in 1932 and grew up primarily in Muncie. She graduated from Burris High School in 1950 and Ball State University in 1953 with a BS in Education. In 1952 she married David Hartley, also from Muncie and they had 3 sons, Peter (Sheila Noonan) of Seattle and Douglas (Kathy) of Bainbridge Island who survive her, and Timothy who passed away in 1996.

Sylvia was remarried to Walter Button in 1977, following David’s death three years earlier. For 44 years Sylvia and Walter enjoyed a wonderful life together, especially the time spent when they were boating up and down the Hudson on their cabin cruiser, the Prowler. They were long-time members of the Peekskill Yacht Club in New York. Walter also passed away recently, this past June.

A life-long educator, Sylvia taught elementary school in Indiana and New Jersey, including the last 21 years before her 1988 retirement at Wildwood School in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. Unable to settle down, Sylvia then spent more than 30 years as a docent with the Bronx Zoo, mentoring other volunteers and leading groups both large and small, inspiring zoo visitors to protect species and habitats around the world.

In addition to her two sons, Sylvia is survived by her grandchildren and their families: granddaughter Amelia Leake (Trevor), two grandsons David Hartley (Katherine) and Stuart Hartley (Rabi), and three great grandsons.

Gifts in her honor may be made to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

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