Tullia von Sydow was a Social Democratic party politician who was active at parliamentary level as well as at the county council level. Her primary contribution lay in matters concerning policies regarding the elderly.
Tullia von Sydow was born on 20 November 1918. She was born in Stockholm to naval commander Björn von Sydow and his wife Tullia (née Granström), who was a nurse. Tullia had three sisters named Lotty, Birgit, and Gunhild. Tullia von Sydow was the first person in her family to graduate from high school. She continued her studies by attending Lund university and subsequently found work at the AB Nordiska uppslagsböcker (reference books).
Tullia von Sydow first married Lars Arvid Norrmann in 1943 but their marriage only lasted a few months. In 1945 Tullia von Sydow got married again, to Bengt Sköldenberg, with whom she had four children: Björn, Tor, Dag, and Ulrika. She divorced her second husband in 1958. Following the divorce and as a single mother she began her civil service career. From 1964 to 1983 Tullia von Sydow found employment in various government agencies within the Swedish national health board. She herself has recounted that this was the most important and significant period of her life in relation to her professional work. She, along with her stimulating fellow workers, developed much of what would become the modern approach to care for the elderly.
Tullia von Sydow was a committed and much-loved public speaker, both within and outside Sweden. For example, following her retirement she ran interest groups such as “Att åldras är att växa” (to age is to grow) and “Forum 50+”. Her intention behind setting up these groups was to find ways to counteract the negative attitudes prevalent with regard to the elderly. She wrote books on the subject, including Vilja växa vidare: inför den tredje åldern, published in 1991. She also set up other sorts of societies, such as the Nämndemännens Riksförbund (the national association of jurymen) for which she was the chair from 1980–1983.
In advance of the 1998 election the Social Democratic party in Stockholm gave Tullia von Sydow a top-ranking position in the parliamentary list, largely due to her activism on behalf of policies regarding the elderly. Tullia von Sydow, then aged 80, became the eldest member of the Swedish parliament. She served from 1998 until 2002. Prior to that she had already served as a member of the Stockholm county council from 1991 to 1995 and, following her time in parliament, she returned to serve the county council from 2002 to 2006.
Tullia von Sydow’s positive attitude towards life and her transparent equal opportunities approach inspired many of the people she came into contact with. She died in 2019 and is buried next to her parents at the Galärvarvet cemetery on Djurgården in Stockholm.