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Super Senior: Sylvia Walker

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There's a saying that "art makes the world a better place." That's certainly true for Sylvia Walker. It's her passion.

It's 9:30 a.m. at the Montpelier Senior Activity Center and budding artists are already busy. The class is called Painting As You Like It. And the seniors do like it, the class doesn't officially start until 10.

"I really like what you did with that window, it's beautiful," said Sylvia Walker.

The 15 women are proud of their artwork and so is the instructor, Sylvia.

"I really love being here with all these people, but I like my painting, too," said Sylvia.

"This is a picture of a road in South Strafford. It's the first oil painting that I've ever done," said Sylvia. 

Sylvia grew up poor in the hills of Sharon, her father owned a sawmill.

Reporter Joe Carroll: But they didn't think of it as a profession?  

Sylvia: No, definitely not.

Sylvia married, raised a family and worked for the Labor and Health Department, mostly in the stockroom. She said it was a typical life of a Vermonter, leaving her painting skills on the back burner. It wasn't until she retired that her creative side came back to life.

"Probably, you can't do a whole lot when you have four kids running around," said Sylvia. 

The 80-year-old Worcester resident is not only a painter but a self-published poet and writer.

"At my age I feel time is running out to get the chance to do all I want to do," said Sylvia.

In December 2009, the senior center suffered a serious setback; a fire did extensive damage to the building, especially the art room.

"I lost a lot of paintings, five, six, maybe seven," said Sylvia.

Carroll: Why is it so hard losing a painting?  

Sylvia: It's almost like losing a child. It really is.

Carroll: You call these your miracle paintings? 

Sylvia: I think that's what they are because they did go through the fire.

Two of those paintings, not hers, hang prominently on the wall. It's a reminder to every one of the destruction. 

"How they survived I really don't know," said Sylvia.

The senior center was rebuilt and Sylvia returned to her artwork.

"I would move that line over to that," said Sylvia.

"She comes around and says something good and makes a suggestion of something more you can do and it works," said Annie Geiger, art student.

A major part of her life is the senior center, she's been coming here just shy of two decades. When the fire happened, the writer in her sent a note to the fire marshal. In a way it was therapeutic.

"I'm sure we will rebuild and like the phoenix we will rise again and I think that's what's happened," said Sylvia.

It's a portrait of an artist.

Carroll: Keep on going.

Sylvia: Keep on going, that's for sure.

Sylvia is not only an instructor, she also takes yoga classes at the center.

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