Saturday, July 24, 2004

Sylvia Stayton, 70, did 'what was right'

She was 'Meter Feeding Granny'

By Ari Bloomekatz
Enquirer staff writer

Sylvia Dale Stayton, who gained notoriety as the "Meter Feeding Granny" after she was arrested for inserting coins into expired Corryville parking meters in 1996, died Tuesday from breast cancer.

Mrs. Stayton, 70, had cancer since late 2000 and spent the last few years of her life bedridden in her West Side apartment.

As she passed away Tuesday afternoon, her daughters left her with the same gift they had given their father while he passed away in 2002 - a song.

"We were all around her bed, touching her and singing," said her oldest daughter, Cynthia Stayton, adding that they were in the middle of "Softly and Tenderly" when Ms. Stayton died.

Mrs. Stayton's youngest daughter, Laurie Stayton-Smith, said her father was a musician and she remembers the family singing on car trips and sometimes in restaurant lounges after dinner.

A Cincinnati native, Mrs. Stayton was born in 1933 and moved with her family to Mount Healthy in 1949. After she finished high school, Mrs. Stayton married her husband, Norris, and began her life as a wife and homemaker.

A devout Christian, Mrs. Stayton and her husband directed the Immanuel Presbyterian Church youth group and were Sunday School teachers.

Mrs. Stayton was also never afraid of doing what she thought was right, something that eventually put her in trouble with the law, Cynthia Stayton said.

"I'd say the thing that really, really stands out in my mind is she taught us to stand up for what was right, not necessarily what was popular," Cynthia Stayton said.

In October 1996, when Mrs. Stayton was 64, she saw an officer writing tickets for cars parked in spaces with expired meters. She put spare change into the meters before he could write tickets. She was arrested and charged with obstructing official business and required to pay a $500 fine and $200 in court costs. Donations covered the expense.

Mrs. Stayton gained national attention for her attempted acts of kindness and was featured on several national talk shows.

In addition to her daughters Laurie and Cynthia, survivors include her sisters, Carol Jean Holland of Jefferson City, Tenn., and Nancy Sue Stratman of Dallas; brothers, Thomas Seigle of Jefferson City, Tenn., and Robert Nichols Seigle of Burke, Va.; a son, James Stayton; another daughter, Rebecca Pickens; and 10 grandchildren.

Married for 51 years, Ms. Stayton was buried Friday next to her husband at the Dayton National Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. today at Evangelical Community Church at 2190 Struble Road.

Memorials: Sylvia Stayton Memorial Fund, "Meter Feeding Granny," at any Provident Bank branch.



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Sylvia Stayton, 70, did 'what was right'