Syd Oliver Staggs died Saturday, March 18, 2023 in Aurora, Colorado at the age of 28. They were born as Susan Cecilia Staggs on March 26, 1994 in Denver, Colorado to Mark and Kelley Staggs. While their life was heartbreakingly too short, they touched the lives of their friends and family very deeply. They are survived by their parents, siblings Sarah (Kyle) Fernandez, Sam (Colin) Szabo, Spencer Staggs, their Grandparents Cecilia Craven, Alverta Staggs and Richard Staggs, and their longtime dog companion Skye. They are preceded in death by their grandfather Charles Richard Craven. Numerous cousins, aunts and uncles, and two nephews loved them very much. In addition to their immediate family, Syd leaves behind a loving community of friends and a supportive family at CU Anschutz and Children’s Hospital campus.
From the start, Syd was a smart, curious, questioning, and vivacious preschooler who began their education at Happy Valley Preschool. They rode the bus three times a week to be a “Peanut” and take care of the animals who lived at the school, each day insisting on wearing an Easter Bonnet and beads. They went to Van Arsdale Elementary where they made a tight group of friends, loved their teachers, and every year won the Bandimere Speedway’s “Race to Read” competition, earning a family set of tickets to Night of Fire and Thunder. They won so many times that they were invited to be a judge at the Hot Rod and Classic Cars competition. They loved to skate, road trip, camp, catch frogs, swim, help raise chickens and lambs, and work in their garden. In 6th grade, they got their own dog named OP. They attended Oberon Middle School and then Ralston Valley High School in Arvada. Throughout high school, they were very successful, taking honor’s classes and playing Tennis for the RV Mustangs. Their favorite experience was an internship through Warren Tech and Lutheran Medical Center. They learned how to transfer patients and gained valuable experience understanding how an emergency room worked. Undoubtedly, this sparked Syd’s desire to go into the medical field and help others. They graduated from RVHS in 2012.
After high school, Syd went to CU Denver, living on campus their first year and making many friends. During the week, they studied, attended classes, and worked as a biology and chemistry tutor; on the weekend they came home to work at a nearby Fantastic Sam’s. In the summer, they volunteered to teach Gifted and Talented outdoor lab summer school with their mom, Kelley, using their lab skills to help students learn to test water quality. Syd achieved their Bachelor’s Degree from CU in Biology and Psychology, then switched labs to work at the Anschutz facility at UC Health in Aurora, beginning their Master’s studies in Public Health. It was at this time when Syd found their true self and identity as a transgender adult.
Their successes at Anschutz and Children’s Hospital soared. According to the Office of the Dean, “Syd was a passionate advocate for others - specifically for the LGBTQ+ folks in public health, clinical care, and across our CU Anschutz campus. Even most recently as presented in one of their environmental and occupational health courses, Syd helped to educate others on how to make spaces more inclusive and welcoming for those who are LGBTQ+ and neurodiverse. As a student, Syd was actively involved in Student Senate at CU Anschutz and was a fellow with the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program through JFK Partners. Syd was an active volunteer for many organizations including CU Anschutz’s LGBTQ+ Hub, and the Dedicated to Aurora’s Wellness and Needs (DAWN) free clinic in Aurora. For the past five years, Syd was also a research assistant at Children’s Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Natalie Nokoff. In 2021, Syd was awarded the Graduate School Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Award on the CU Anschutz campus.” Syd’s family and friends were always proud of their accomplishments and their passion to help make our world a better place for all.
Syd ended their life on March 18, 2023 by completing suicide. While we are all devastated by who the world lost on this day, we ask that we all recommit ourselves to Syd’s beliefs in LGBTQ+ and Neurodivergent rights and advancement of quality of life. Please give generously your time and/or donations to one of the organizations below through their links.
Children’s Hospital Colo.
Foundation The Trevor Project