William E. Tymas
1934 – 2020
William Edward “Sonny” Tymas, age 86, passed away peacefully on March 11, 2020 under the care of hospice at the Hock Family Pavilion in Durham, North Carolina.
Sonny was born on March 10, 1934 in Washington, DC and was the only child of Peter Tymas and Ella Frances (Lane) Tymas.
Sonny attended Armstrong High School. He then served in the United States Army as a soldier and musician. An accomplished vocalist, Sonny performed in a variety of Army ensembles before audiences in the U.S. and Europe.
Upon his honorable discharge Sonny attended Howard University, where he met Scotta Barsella. They married in New York City on June 21, 1959. The young couple returned to Washington, DC, had two children and raised a family there, before moving to Reston, VA. Sonny was a loving and devoted father to Baron and Whitney Tymas. He was an underwriter for New York Life Insurance Company and, later, a professional photographer.
Sonny was a dynamic and multi-talented man who loved music, family, driving and the Washington Redskins. He was a kind and non-judgmental listener, who provided encouragement and an empathetic ear. He was also an engaging, charismatic personality who could connect with people of all ages and backgrounds. Sonny was a martial artist who forged lifelong friendships with members of his Washington DC judo club, an avid tennis player, and a powerful swimmer who learned to swim in the treacherous eastern branch of the Potomac River and emerged undaunted by any body of water. He was a jazz singer with a velvety baritone voice that endured well into his 80’s. He possessed a rare and colorful imagination and a knack for perceiving the wonder in subtle things: the scent of honeysuckle, the way Django Reinhardt moved his fingers, the lines of a vintage BMW. Sonny was a visionary father who sought unparalleled opportunities for his children, steering them across geographic and cultural divides. He was a gifted storyteller, enthralling his family with vivid descriptions of the natural world and tales of exploits and adventures -- “big fish” stories of swimming in the Caribbean, racing cars, even flying and jumping out of airplanes. He was an engaged and loving grandfather who helped shuttle his growing brood, in Richmond, Virginia and later Durham, NC, from school to activities. He could be heard cheering at soccer and football games, wrestling matches, track events and swim meets (and we could always detect his deep voice), clapping loudly at our graduations, concerts and plays, and insisting that we freely express our unique selves.
Sonny is survived by his ex-wife Scotta, son and daughter Baron and Whitney, daughter-in-law Laura, grandchildren Dylan, Lila, Elias and Jesse and beloved friends and family. We will hold him forever in our hearts with gratitude.
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