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Sylvia C. Tenn

Obituary for Sylvia C. Tenn

January 29, 2020
Manchester, New Hampshire


Sylvia Catherine (Nedder) Tenn, 79, found eternal rest on January 29, 2020 following an acute illness at Massachusetts General Hospital, surrounded by her family.

Sylvia was defined throughout her life by her empathy for people and her unmatched kindness. She cared deeply for all those around her and forged friendships easily, built on genuine regard and common humanity. She advocated for all whom she loved, and kept at the center of her life her faith in God, her devotion to her family, and her firmly-held belief that to whom much is given, much is required. During her life, she used her immense capacity and talent for good.

The daughter of Ernest and Mary Nedder, Sylvia was born in Readville, MA. As a child, growing up with her six siblings, she had a reputation for being their loyal defender, a trait that she would carry forward for the rest of her life.

While in high school, Sylvia and her sister were standout members of the school's debate and public speaking team, which fostered in her a lifelong love of oratory, poetry, and the power of words. Directly out of high school, she was awarded a full scholarship to law school given her analytical prowess. Sylvia graduated as salutatorian from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada. She then received her Master's Degree in English from Dalhousie University in Canada, as well as a second Master's from Akron University in Ohio. She ultimately elected to teach and, in 1963, she married Dr. James J. Tenn. Together, they moved to Manchester to raise their family.

To all who knew her, Sylvia exemplified the true meaning of having a "white heart," and she felt deeply the prominence of God in her life. She was a longtime member of St. Catherine of Siena Parish and an active member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, achieving the rank of Lady Commander with Star.

During the more than 50 years she lived in Manchester, Sylvia actively used her gifts and concern for people to make a positive and meaningful impact. She served as President of the Sacred Heart Hospital Associates, President of the New Hampshire Medical Society's Women's Auxiliary, a member of the Board of Directors of Sacred Heart Hospital, and Treasurer of the Catholic Medical Center Memorial Fund. During her tenure in these roles, she orchestrated countless fundraisers and community service projects, ranging from blood drives to fashion shows to the annual Heart Ball. While Sylvia supported countless charitable organizations in her lifetime, her many quiet and unheralded acts of kindness exemplified her desire to do good in the world.

In addition, Sylvia encouraged the pursuit of excellence and achievement by using her skills and faith to support youth in the community. She volunteered for many years to coach Catholic elementary and junior high school teams in the Odyssey of the Mind creative thinking competition, leading teams to state championships, as well as the World Finals. For nearly ten years, she also served as a volunteer debate coach at Manchester Central High School, successfully leading teams to the Harvard National Debate Tournament each year. For many years, she was a judge for the Voice of Democracy oratory contest, sponsored annually by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In those roles, she demonstrated to her students the power of teamwork and self-belief. In later years, Sylvia paired again with her sister and found success as a Senior Olympian in table tennis as part of NH Senior Games. All the while, she helped her husband care for and treat thousands of patients, by running his internal medical practice and keeping at the core of that work ultimate concern for people.

By her own example, Sylvia worked tirelessly to instill in her children the strength of her faith and the value of commitment to one another and service to the greater good. Later, in her retirement years, she showed complete devotion to her grandchildren, encouraging them to know God in their lives, show kindness to one another, and strive to do their personal best with the gifts God gave them.

More than her own achievements, Sylvia was part of every achievement of her children and grandchildren.

She is survived by her husband of 56 years, Dr. James J. Tenn, to whom she was faithfully devoted and with whom she built an enduring partnership; her four children whom she considered the joy of her life: James J. Tenn, Jr., Esq. and his wife, Cynthia, of Manchester; John J. Tenn, Esq. and his wife, Grace, of Bedford; Mary E. Tenn, Esq. and her husband, Stephen R. Blair, of Manchester; and Annmarie A. Tenn, Esq. and her husband, Alessandro Martuscelli, Esq., of Carlisle, MA; her eight grandchildren, in whose conversations and antics she fully delighted and found great joy: Matthew, Michael, Anna, Luke, Catherine, Elizabeth, Christian and Juliette.

SERVICES: Calling hours are Tuesday (2/4) from 4 to 7 p.m. at Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory, 1799 Elm St., corner of North Street, Manchester. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday (2/5) at 10 a.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Church, 267 Webster St., Manchester. Committal prayers will follow at St. Joseph Cemetery, 448 Donald St., Bedford.

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Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory

1799 Elm St
Manchester, NH 03104
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