Cynthia ‘Cindy’ Wolford Symons died March 20, 2020 in Kent, Ohio. She was Professor Emerita from Kent State University. Cindy received her B.S. in Health and Physical Education from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and her M.Ed. and D.Ed. from the Pennsylvania State University. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Richard Symons; her parents, Richard and Dottie Wolford; her sister, Amy; brother, Scott and nephews and nieces.
Cindy was a dominant contributor in the area of school health for over 30 years. An in-demand speaker, consultant and author, Cindy supported the health education profession and, ultimately, the health of thousands of school children and adolescents benefited from her professional contributions. Cindy served as President of the American School Health Association from 2001 to 2002. Among other publications, she co-authored a textbook that is used in many institutions of higher education. Her expertise was sought by state and federal agencies, school districts, non-governmental agencies and professional organizations. In addition to many other projects, Cindy participated in NCATE Board of Reviewers and the National Health Education Assessment Project, as well as reviewed submissions for numerous professional publications. She presented extensively at the national, state and local level. Ultimately, Cindy would want to be remembered for her commitment to teaching and mentoring. She received the Kent State ‘Distinguished Teaching Award’ in 1994 and spent a sabbatical returning to the elementary classroom. She is remembered as a committed and excellent educator and mentor.
"Cindy Symons came to my office around 1980 to seek admission to the graduate program in Health Education at Penn State. At the time, I was a recently appointed faculty member with a background in school health and had taught high school health for two years. So, I fashioned myself as an expert in school health education. After talking with Cindy for 30 minutes, I realized how little I knew about school health. Cindy was a skilled health educator who wove theory and practice to provide meaningful instruction for her students at Williamsport High School in Pennsylvania. Her graduate work at Penn State helped refine her skills as a researcher and a scholar and launch her successful career at Kent State. Throughout her career, Dr. Symons made major contributions to health education and school health education. She served as President of the American School Health Association, co-authored the seminal textbook in the field and served on important state and national committees to promote the health and wellbeing of our youth. I have followed Cindy’s career for almost 40 years as a mentor, colleague and friend. When discussing Cindy’s accomplishments with others, I would proudly state ‘You know, Cindy was one of my students’.”
- Jim Eddy, Editor-in Chief, American Journal of Health Education
"Cindy Wolford Symons and I came to Penn State University in 1982 to complete our doctoral studies. We were roommates, graduate assistants, and she was my running and study partner. During our years as graduate students, I could count on Cindy to never back down from deliberating philosophies, concepts, and pedagogical approaches relevant to the field of health education. More importantly, it was during those years we developed a strong friendship that has had a powerful impact on my life. Cindy had a larger than life presence, an infectious laugh and an impressive vocabulary. You always knew that when she was pulling on her earring and pausing between thoughts, she was going to impress and challenge you as she formulated and delivered her witty responses. She was a champion for health education in schools. Cindy’s contributions as an educator and scholar along with her service to her students and the larger community speak volumes to her professional success. She strived relentlessly to guide her students and shift systems that often dismissed the link between academic success and health. Cindy was passionate about health education and the positive impact it has on the lives of children, youth, and families. Cindy’s pedagogical skills and ability to make personal connections with her students resulted in healthier children, youth and families, and years of effective health educators trained under her tutelage. Although decades have passed since Cindy and I were running on Penn State’s campus or trying to solve current health problems utilizing effective health education strategies, our conversations over the years did not change. We often laughed remembering funny events, shared professional and personal experiences, and of course, we would still try to solve health problems. Cindy touched many lives and I am grateful to call her my very dear friend. Cindy, I will miss your laugh, smile and our friendship.”
- Carol DiMarco Cummings, Chair of the Department of Community Health at Rhode Island College
"The first day of graduate school, my first class, I discovered I was in the presence of the most engaging, mesmerizing and challenging teacher I had ever experienced. Cindy Symons could make a three-hour class seem like it was 10 minutes long. She taught me how to teach and how to develop students to their full potential, all with her trademark sense of humor and her caring nature. She believed in mentorship that did not end when you graduated but continued whenever you needed her. Once you were ‘hers’, you always were. Over the 34 years of being her colleague and close friend, I watched her work her magic on countless others who came after me. Our profession has benefited immensely from the incredible time and energy she so tirelessly gave.”
- Renee Axiotis, Associate Professor at Kent State in Ohio
"I remember the first time I met Cindy Symons in the summer of 1987. I was an undergraduate student stopping by the department office to change my major to school health education and she happened to be in the office. After she took the time to meet and explain the program to me, I know this was my chosen field and that she was the person I wanted to emulate. From that point on, she became my academic advisor and mentor from undergrad to grad school. Recently I was selected by my institution to receive a Legacy of Leadership award and of course I included Cindy in my speech. I have always told her that all I am professionally is due to her support, guidance and mentorship. She set the bar extremely high as a respected colleague in the field of Health Education and I am forever grateful. Through the years, we moved beyond the student and teacher relationship, to become colleagues and friends. I will cherish the academic opportunities that we shared, but most importantly her friendship!”
- Tammy James, Professor at West Chester University
"I have been Cindy’s friend for over 40 years. We were graduate students and roommates together at the Pennsylvania State University and shared many happy times together. She was a remarkable friend and colleague whose memory I will always cherish. During my own battle with cancer, Cindy provided emotional support and also extended professional opportunities to me. I was so appreciative of her support. I, as well as my family, benefited from having Cindy and her husband in our lives. Although our lives will continue, they will never be the same without her.”
"During Cindy’s illness, she and her husband established two funds, one to support undergraduate students at Kent State University and one to assist cancer patients who may need financial support during treatment. Should anyone wish to contribute to these projects in Cindy’s memory, I have included the contact information for both. For those of us who knew and loved Cindy, the establishment of these charitable funds exemplifies the way she lived her life with kindness, generosity and wisdom. I will be forever grateful to have called her my friend.”
- Mary Rose-Colley, Professor Emerita at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania