Sylvio Scorza ’45

The Rev. Dr. Sylvio J. Scorza, age 98, passed away on August 1, 2021, in Orange City, Iowa, after a brief illness. He was a professor emeritus at Northwestern College.

Sylvio Joseph was born on March 21, 1923, in Zurich, Switzerland, the son of Rev. Joseph P. and Helena (Kopp) Scorza. He came to the United States in 1929 and grew up in Chicago. As an undergraduate, he studied at the University of Chicago and Hope College, in Holland Michigan, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1945.

He was severely injured in a traffic accident and did not attend school from 1944 to 1950. He then attended Western Theological Seminary, in Holland, Michigan, and earned a Bachelor of Divinity (BD) degree in 1953. At Princeton Seminary, in New Jersey, he earned his first doctorate degree, a Doctorate of Theology (ThD), in 1956, and taught Old Testament studies twice as a sabbatical replacement. He found his niche at Northwestern College, in Orange City, in 1959, teaching religion and Greek. He earned a second doctorate degree (PhD in linguistics) from the University of Illinois. Syl retired in 1990, and was awarded an honorary degree (Doctor of Humane Letters) from Northwestern College. Syl was an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America. He served the church at both the regional and national levels, including as president of the General Synod in 1989 to 1990.

He wrote for the denomination’s Sunday School Guide for five decades. He also served as a lay member of Iowa’s Board of Law Examiners and was named the state’s Disabled Person of the Year in 1991. He was an accomplished chess player and won an Iowa state chess championship. After retiring, he amassed 220 credits at Northwestern, taking at least one course nearly every semester for several years in subjects ranging from science to art and history to music.

Syl married Phyllis Van Setters on June 6, 1952, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Syl and Phyl adopted three children, Christine, Philip, and John. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis; his three children, Chris, and her husband, Mike Salzman; Phil Scorza, and his wife, Kim (Vrieze); and John Scorza, and his wife, Lisa (Moran); five grandchildren, Jericho Ney, Kassie Carpio, Daimon Scorza, Joe Scorza, and Tyler Scorza; four great grandchildren, Jackson Ney and Charlea, Oliver, and Luca Carpio; and two sisters, Ann Plaas and Edna Brooks.

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