Colonel Cecil R. Sykes


Cecil Ray Sykes, Colonel, US Army, retired was born 1/1/1930 in Clinchco, Virginia. He died in his beloved Pamlico County, with family members by his side, 6/13/2019.

The third child of Leonard and Elizabeth, Cecil was one of 3 brothers and 2 sisters who grew up in a coal mining community where they learned farming as well as respect and love of family. Inspired to serve his country after one year at Purdue University, Cecil was accepted to West Point, NY and joined the US Army.

Educated at US Military Academy West Point, class of 1952, he met Marlene Schmidt soon after graduating. Married within the year, they shared 67 years together, raising 3 children.

Col. Sykes’ memorable military career included serving as Battalion Commander of Artillery in Viet Nam as well as multiple assignments across the US and overseas. Trained in the new discipline of Nuclear Physics at University of Virginia in the 1960s, he was integral to early experimentation at Sandia Base, New Mexico. One of his favorite deployments was to Bangkok, Thailand. Cecil learned to love the Thai language, culture, people, foods and opportunities Thailand gave his family and him.

Alexandria, VA was home for many years, during his years at the Pentagon and after retirement. Drawn to Oriental, NC, Cecil began Sykes Builders in 1983, constructing custom, high quality homes and buildings.

Cecil and Marlene lived a bucolic life on the water where they enjoyed sailing and being involved with several facets of the community. Cecil Sykes was instrumental in establishing and building St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Oriental, NC.

Cecil Sykes loved his God, country and family. Too, he was an incredibly talented Master Gardener, accomplished cook, an avid reader, thinker, conversationalist and friend to many from throughout his life. He enjoyed learning about and creating clocks. Cecil made certain all his children have a handcrafted clock to mark their time.

He was proficient in three languages: English, Thai and French.

Cecil was predeceased by sisters, Thelma and Alice; and brother, Robert. His brother, James (Brenda) live in Big Stone Gap, VA near the original family homestead.

He is survived by his sons, Paul (Tina), Robert (Terry), daughter, Joyce and claimed Charlene Morris as his own child.

Cecil has several grandchildren and great grandchildren, all of whom he loved and cherished. Grandchildren include: Danielle, Wesley and Shelby Rae, Sarah and Jessica (Jason), Brian (Abby) and Timothy.

Great grandchildren include Garrett, who serves in the US Army. Jennifer, Clark and Luke are among several other great-grandchildren whom Cecil often enjoyed in his life. Cecil’s newest great granddaughter, Edith Rae Karam, arrived 6/14/19 and will learn of Cecil from family members and the extensive archives he left for all to explore.

Celebrate Cecil’s life at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church on June 27th at 11 a.m.

Memorial may be given to St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, PO Box 461, Oriental, NC 28571 or Hospice of Pamlico, PO Box 6, Bayboro, NC 28515.

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