Marshall-Donnelly-Combs Funeral Home

201 25th Ave North, Nashville, TN


Sylvia Karnowsky

26 June, 19356 February, 2020

Sylvia Karnowsky was born on 26 June, 1935 and passed away on 6 February, 2020.


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Sylvia Karnowsky

have a memory or condolence to add?

Carolyn Homs

21 March 2020

Ms. K was one of two favorite all time teachers. Her honors history classes taught me more about how to learn than most other classes combined.
I will always set high expectations for the adults I train everyday, largely due to the high expectations (with humor and kindness) she set for all of us.

Rest peacefully, Ms K.
Carolyn Hill Homs, Class of 1987
Photo from news video in ‘87.

David Cobb

9 March 2020

Miss K, was a terrific teacher and person that I was fortunate enough to have for AP History in '74-75. Several of my brothers before me had the opportunity to be in her class, so I had heard much of Miss K, and their fondness.
Simply put, she made a difference.
She had grace, a wonderful sense of humor, amazingly well read, and imparted all of that to her students that engaged. I recall her teaching sitting at a student desk, facing everyone, and having a real discussion about history, its impact, and making it really come alive. It was not memorizing dates, names, etc, but making one understand its impact on each of us today. Two quick reminders to me illustrate her intensity and humor, that for me, have always been little reminders to push a little harder.
First, in the spring of '75, it seemed we all had a bit of spring fever, and had not really prepared for the class. So, she had a little pop quiz about the subject of the day, "The difference between Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian views on democracy." Such a little question in numbers of words, but so profound in its making one stop and think and formulate for ourselves what that meant. We still all are working to understand those differences and what it all means!
Second, in the paper we all had to write towards the end of the year was allowed to be submitted for both the history class, and also for Mrs. Dawes' (another great one) English class. At first, I thought how nice to be able to do only one, but later realized that the double importance of the grade made me work harder. I had done my research at the Vandy JUL library, and on one footnote, I had neglected to write down the page number I was referencing. In typing the paper, when I realized my mistake, I simply guessed and put a number down. Upon the return of the paper, circled in red, was the page number and a note, "Page XX in my edition." Yes, she was a teacher, in the grandest example of what that means.

Mary Marler

2 March 2020

I was one of the lucky ones who had Ms. Karnowsky for AP American History, but it is not her ability to inspire us as students that I remember most, rather her ability to inspire us as individuals. As we approached the cusp of adulthood, she treated us as “young” adults – inviting us into her home, teaching us how to play bridge, and sharing life experiences.

She was Jewish, identified as Russian, and loved baseball. She taught us almost as much about these 3 subjects for the simple reason that she answered any questions put to her, and we felt comfortable asking her anything.

A classmate and I were discussing our favorite memories of Ms. K., and one that stands out for both of us, is of her riding with my Dad in the cab of his pickup truck, (with 15 overly enthusiastic teenagers in the camper in the back), as we made the trek to Tullahoma for the state championship baseball tournament. No other teacher would have ever done that.

At our recent 50-year reunion, Ms. K was the one teacher that everyone spoke of with great affection. It didn’t make any difference whether a student was an athlete or musician, girl or boy, outgoing or introspective – Ms. K made a profound difference in their life because she respected each student as an individual.

She will be missed greatly.

Estie Harris

21 February 2020

I moved to the duplex next door to Sylvia in the late 1980’s and thus began a friendship that has lasted for so many years. Her back yard was a marvel of twisted branches and shady spots. And when she moved to Woodmont, her rose garden was unrivaled.

Sylvia and I shared a love of animals, and she helped me capture my first two kittens from a stray cat that took up residence clearly identifying us as easy targets.

She cared for my animals when I traveled and eventually adopted a cat of her own.

We ate pink horseradish at times and enjoyed the occasional glass of wine. We shared sweets and stories and laughed together. She loved her coffee and would buy it by the gross at time it seemed.

When we both moved from the duplex, we didn’t see each other as much but I feel a great loss at her passing. I know she had been in poor health, but driving by her house always brought memories and smiles. Especially that plant near the street that she was going to take out but then it bloomed, and Sylvia was a sucker for anything that bloomed.

Rest In Peace, dear Sylvia, you will be truly missed

Don Redmon

20 February 2020

I had Miss Karnowsky for AP History in 1967. She was witty, bright and challenged us all to actually think. One of the best teachers I ever had including the ones I had at Vanderbilt. Her expectations were high but her love was genuine. I will never forget her.

ReGina Newkirk

18 February 2020

I don't have words for the impact Ms. Karnowsky had on my life. She was so much more than a teacher for me. She was a lifeline at Overton, being the only one to call me to the carpet while challenging me to be better. Her class was the first time I genuinely struggled academically, and she stayed with me after school to show me how to properly take notes and study. I got a B on that test, and to this day, it's the proudest I have ever been of a grade. Thirty years later, I still have that test (typed, on legal size paper). Ms. K was hands down the best teacher I ever had, and she had the greatest impact on my life and on me. And I know I'm not the only one. The world is definitely a sadder place without the impact she was able to make on so many people. Ms. K, you are and will be dearly missed.

Bobby Mason

18 February 2020

Mrs. Karnowsky was a wonderful teacher & inspired her students to respect others! I will never forget her talking about her parents!!!


18 February 2020

Miss Karnowsky was the teacher who always made me want to be better. She taught, not only history, but a true respect for humanity, as evidenced in her anguish over the plight of the American Indians.
Thinking that I was going to hate American History, I elected to take the class in summer school so that it would be over quickly. Miss Karnowsky, who had been my home room teacher before, taught the class that summer and certainly changed my mind. She gave me a love and passion for history for which I am forever grateful. I can truly say that she was a mentor and a friend and I miss her. May she rest in peace.

Jacky Winters

18 February 2020

In the fall of 1979, I asked 'Miss K' to recommend a class to fill my schedule. She said I needed to go see 'Miss White' and sign up for Forensics, whatever the heck THAT was. So I did. And thus, unknowingly, 'Miss K' forever and most fortunately altered the timeline of my life. So much of everything since flowed from the life lessons learned from the teachers at Overton. I will always be grateful to them. Rest in Peace Miss K.

L Van Buren

18 February 2020

If folks reading this know the story of Fidler on the Roof and the eviction of Jews from Russia in the early 1900s, then you will have a sense of the history from which Ms. Karnowsky's family came. I grew up in the era of the cold war and her knowledge of European history is what influenced me most in wanting to find a path toward peace. I went on to study Russian history, learned to speak Russian, and sought to understand a place so foreign and removed. It didn't help that our civics course immersed us in cold war propaganda at that time. Ms. Karnowsky helped us understand the ebb and flow of history and how important it is to see the good (and the humorous) in humanity.