Sylvia Hermine Specker McCollum (aka Miracle Mom) was born prematurely and started her life on June 26, 1934 as a doll-clothes-clad survivor. The daughter of Carl John and Dorothea Anna Christina Ernsting Specker, her life’s work was focused on feeding the souls, bodies, and minds of others.
In preparation to feed the souls of so many, she was confirmed in the faith at Emmaus Lutheran and then became a part of the non-denominational Christian Church when she married Cecil W. McCollum Jr. on July 19, 1959. During her sojourn at Hazelwood Christian Church and her decades at Monrovia Christian Church, she was actively involved in Bible School as both a teacher and superintendent throughout the years. Her faith was also evident in her daily life.
It was at Monrovia Christian where she began to help feed people in Morgan County by becoming the chairman of the Monrovia Christian Church Food Pantry. After declining health necessitated her resignation as chairman, she continued to provide assistance as long as she was able. While her daughters were in high school, she also had served as a day chairman for the Monrovia Band Boosters Food Tent at the Morgan County Fair. Somehow she managed to convince her fellow Monrovia Elementary Teachers that working the tent together would be a fun reunion, and she and her colleagues prepared and served food to fair-goers once each summer in the August heat.
During her twenty-seven years as the Fifth and Sixth Grade Math Teacher at Monrovia Elementary, she fed the minds and strengthened the mathematical prowess of thousands of students. Many will remember her requirement of saying the multiplication tables, her refusal to “spoon feed” her students, and the fact that any mistake made meant that she was “just checking” the abilities of her students.
When Sylvia matriculated as a proud member of the Purdue University Class of 1956 with a degree in Statistics, she had no idea where God would lead her, but she had some very specific ideas about where she would not go. Born and raised in Fountain Square on the Indianapolis Southside, she was a city girl to the core. Having no desire to live in the country, she refused to date any young man who was an agriculture major. She also had no desire to enter the classroom although her mother taught fourth grade at IPS School 8. Of course, God always has a plan that supersedes plans that we make for ourselves: She married a farmer, lived on a farm, and taught school.
And she bloomed where she was planted. There was a bit of rockiness in the soil that the Lord chose for her throughout life, but she did not allow that to impede her. She was married for 53 years to her farmer, Cecil McCollum, who preceded her in death. Because her father had passed away while she was at Purdue, her stepfather, Bert Hadfield, walked her down the aisle. She raised two daughters: Susan Caroline James (Tim) of Martinsville and Sarah Catherine Knight (Howard) of Indianapolis. She delighted in granddaughters Megan Elizabeth Koenig (John) of Melbourne, Florida and Molly Catherine Knight who attended Brebeuf Jesuit School and now attends Interlochen Arts Academy; Grams loved to hear them sing and watch them perform. She also cherished her Koenig great-grandchildren -- John William III and Caroline Elizabeth -- and visited them daily via FaceTime.
Her family and friends will miss the wit and “punny” sense of humor of this Manual High School graduate who served as yearbook editor. Sylvia was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, served on the Morgan County Community Foundation Scholarship Committee, was both a loyal patron of the Monrovia branch of the Morgan County Public Library and an avid Purdue fan who bled black and gold. Even the Master’s degree that she earned at DePauw University was linked to her beloved black and gold. Although she started life as a city girl, when her life ended on May 16, 2020, she was proud to have been part of the Monrovia community.
The public is invited to pay their respects during a Drive-by Visitation at Monrovia Christian Church on Friday, May 22 from 12:30 – 2:30pm. A private service will follow. The service will be recorded and can be viewed at www.carlislebranson.com. Interment will take place at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Hall. Funeral services have been entrusted to Carlisle-Branson Funeral Service & Crematory, Mooresville.
Memorial contributions can be made to Monrovia Christian Church, the Monrovia Christian Church Food Pantry, or the Monrovia branch of the Morgan County Public Library.
Mt. Pleasant Cemetery