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Kevin Lee Sykes


Kevin Lee Sykes, 72, of Worthington, Ohio, passed away February 8, 2021 surrounded by his daughters, Megan and Amanda, and his best friend, Sue Hess.

Kevin was born in 1948 to Merlyn and Betty (Smitley) Sykes, on the hottest August 28 in Lima Ohio’s history. Five years later, they welcomed his sister Suellyn who was born thinking her brother was the funniest person alive. Making her laugh continued to be a lifelong goal and provided endless entertainment to both siblings. As a child, Kevin loved reading and was a model student—only partly out of necessity, given his father was the high school principal. At Beloit College he found his niche in academics, ultimately deciding to focus on anthropology. There he also met his now former wife, Carol Schneerer, with whom he’d eventually have two daughters. He continued on to the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago to pursue a Doctorate in Anthropology and be trained as a historian of the ancient Near East. Unfortunately, a thesis dispute caused him to switch gears and he ended up completing a law degree from the Ohio State University instead. Remaining in Columbus, he began working as an associate at the law firm where he had clerked as a second-year law student. While Kevin spent a respectable 37 year legal career at that same firm (now Kegler, Brown, Hill, + Ritter)—and was revered by his colleagues for his wit, intellect, and keen legal mind—those who knew him best know that he was always a writer, teacher, and academic at heart. He supported his daughters’ artistic endeavors unreservedly, once telling them: “You can be anything you want to be… except a lawyer”.

Kevin was a voracious reader, and lifelong learner, who was fascinated by etymology and the art of languages. He was a gifted writer and orator, captivated by the study of people and cultures. He always had a classic film playing and knew an immense amount of compelling but useless trivia. His deep love of travel included many memorable family trips with his two daughters, his sister, his brother-in-law Kevin, and their two daughters Krysten and Rhian, to locations such as Turkey, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Jordan, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Germany. Additionally, Kevin’s study abroad experiences in Beirut and Istanbul, back when he was studying anthropology, had a profound effect on how he viewed the world and, ultimately, how he conveyed that world to his children.

Long resigned to a life without further progeny, Kevin was delighted when he was given a grandson in 2015 and a granddaughter in 2018. He relished every moment of being “Grandpa Mumba” (so-deemed by his grandson) and can rest peacefully knowing that even in the seemingly short time he spent with them he successfully instilled a deep love of reading through his generous gifting of books and his inspired recitation of songs and stories.

In addition to his sister Suellyn (Sykes) Stotts, he is survived by his daughters Amanda Sykes of Sunnyside, New York, and Megan Sykes (William Gerdes) and grandchildren Olympia Sykes, 3, and Everett Sykes, 5, of Mercer Island, WA. Kevin was preceded in passing by his parents, Merlyn and Betty (Smitley) Sykes, a brother, Terence Sykes, who died in infancy, and his beloved cats: Donut, Cosby, Miranda, and Ziva.

A memorial service will be held at Worthington United Methodist Church (600 High St, Worthington, OH 43085) on Saturday, July 10, at 2 PM, with a reception to follow at Everest Cuisine (652 High St, Worthington, OH 43085) at 3 PM. Family will be present to welcome loved ones.

Memorial donations may be made to the Special Olympics of Ohio at sooh.org.

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  • Kay Williamson says:

    Mandy & Megan: I so enjoyed working with Kevin over the years. He spoke of you often when we met. It has been wonderful actually meeting both of you too after hearing so much about you – I just wish that it had been under different circumstances. You were both a great support for your father. Thinking of you and your family. Take care. Kay

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