Sandra Sullivan, 1939-2019

The mother of U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan passed away on March 27, 2019. Sullivan has cancelled some of his events planned for this week in Alaska, to attend to family.
Here is her obituary:
Sandra Sullivan died peacefully on March 27, 2019 surrounded by loved ones.
She is survived by Thomas, her devoted husband of 59 years, her children Frank (Barbara nee O’Rourke), T. Sean (Mary nee Conway), Tom Jr. (Mary nee Frain), Dan (Julie nee Fate), Kathleen Sullivan (Blaise Dupuy) and Julie Sullivan (Bruce Shagvoc), as well as her beloved brood of 16 aspiring grandchildren: Sully, George, Grace, James, Virginia, Joe, Margaret, Meghan, Audrey, Rose, Isabella, Ingrid, Laurel, Will, Rory and Grady.
Born Sept. 23, 1939 in Dallas, Texas, she was transported North through the love of Thomas C. Sullivan, to the winters of Cleveland, Ohio. Over all these years, she never truly lost her Southern accent.
This one life, touched the lives of multitudes of people, many of whom her immediate family would never know. Sandra was a lovely woman, both inside and out, known for her engaging personality, once winning the title of one of Texas’ Ten Most Beautiful as a sophomore at University of Texas in Austin. She later completed her undergraduate education at Baldwin Wallace in 1980 wherein 1999 she was awarded Doctor of Humane Letters, Honorary Degree. For 14 years she served on B-W’s Board of Trustees.
A woman of faith, Sandra quietly supported numerous charities for the homeless, for women’s shelters and half way houses where people could find dignity and a new lease on life. Sandra was inspirational in establishing, with her husband Thomas,
The Sullivan Family Foundation that supports such initiatives throughout the Cleveland metro area. Sandy and Tom have been especially involved with education, specifically Metro Catholic and Urban Community School. Among these, another Sullivan Family charitable trust, Sullivan Scholars, is lovingly dedicated to the children and young adults of Northeast Ohio.
From elementary through high school and university, Sullivan Scholars champions the aspirations of underprivileged youth who have found their creativity and dreams through Sandy’s signature compassion and good will for all. Over decades, Sandra spent time feeding “the folks” who needed sustenance and found it at The West Side Catholic Center.
The literacy service at WWCS is named for her, the Sandra Sullivan Learning Center for Life. She was a founding Board Member of the Community Service Alliance, which provides affordable, supportive housing for men coming out of homelessness.
Sandra had the brilliant idea of converting disused convents and rectories dotted throughout the Cleveland area as community homes for homeless men, providing job training and a way out of the grind of systemic poverty. In homage to her signature vision, one of the first of these conversions was named “Sandy’s House” in her honor. Her family will always remember Sandy’s cherishing the beauty of God’s creation.
All her six children were partly raised in Cleveland’s much-loved Metroparks picking up any refuse that crossed their path. She was a supporter of the Metropark’s Nature & Science Center and as an avid gardener, Sandra advocated for ecological preservation and healthy living long before the dictates of public conscience.
She also supported The Nature’s Bin in Lakewood a health food market that trained people with disabilities, providing them life skills and a community to flourish in. With her trademark energy, she would light up any room she entered. Whether working with impacted communities or courting other philanthropists to raise funds, she treated all with dignity and respect, truly living ‘love in action’ through her ministry in the inner city. “With God all things are possible”, she would often say. And through God this one remarkable woman transformed the lives of many, giving opportunity and hope, kindness and respect.
Funeral Mass Monday, April 1, St. Raphael Church (525 Dover Center Rd., Bay Village) at 10:30 am. Meet at the church. Interment will be at Lakewood Park Cemetery.
Friends may call at Chambers Funeral Home of North Olmsted, 29150 Lorain Road at Stearns Road, Sunday, 2-5:30 pm on Sunday.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the MCS Vision Endowment Fund, Metro Catholic School, 3555 West 54th Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44102.


  1. I didn’t have the honor to have known Mrs. Sullivan, but clearly a remarkable woman. My deepest condolences to the entire Sullivan family.

  2. It is often said the reflection of a mother’s love can be send in the children she raises. She raised one great son I know who is a very loving man and someone who loved his mother deeply. I told him I knew there was something I liked about him after finding out he had been raised by a Texas Mom.

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