Obituary: Sybilla Knauth Pfeiffer, 96, longtime Wilton resident

Sybilla Knauth Pfeiffer, a longtime resident of Wilton, passed away peacefully in the company of her daughter, Julie, on November 27, 2017 in Fishbourne, West Sussex, Great Britain. She was 96.

Sybilla and her husband Ken H. Pfeiffer first moved to Wilton in 1958 and lived in our town until 1996, when they moved to England, to be closer to their daughter and son, Stephen Pfeiffer. Mr. and Mrs. Pfeiffer were fixtures in Democratic politics and conservation circles in Wilton, where Mr. Pfeiffer helped to found the Wilton Land Conservation Trust.

Sybilla Pfeiffer, born in New York City in 1921, moved with her family to Leipzig, Germany in 1930, so that her father could take over the German branch of the family bank, Knauth, Nachod, and Kühne, after the failure of the American branch in the Great Depression. There, she experienced the rise of Nazi Germany and, together with her mother and two sisters, was stranded as American citizens by the outbreak of war after the attack on Pearl Harbor. An urgent message from her father to leave Germany for New York by ocean liner was delayed by an early British bombing of Berlin, which damaged the US Embassy.

After surviving internship, allied bombings, and lack of ration cards, Mrs. Pfeiffer and her mother and sisters were exchanged for German citizens through the efforts of the Red Cross in 1944. Mrs. Pfeiffer attended Radcliffe College as a member of the Class of 1948, the first “Cliffies” allowed to use Harvard’s Widener Library.

The Pfeiffers moved to Connecticut from Greenwich Village in New York City in 1954, living first at Grove Point in Westport before buying a house at 36 Old Boston Road in Wilton.

Mrs. Pfeiffer is survived by her two children, five grandchildren, and a first great-granddaughter.