On March 1, Suffield sadly lost Joanne Sullivan but her indelible mark on this town will leave a positive and lasting legacy for many years to come. A proud product of Suffield through and through, Joanne spent her entire life entrenched in this community. The seeds Joanne planted are all over this great town. Born and raised on Bridge Street, Joanne attended Suffield schools and graduated from Suffield High School in 1956.
While living on Spruce Street, Joanne married her high school sweetheart, Danny, at St. Joseph’s Church on South Main St., a short distance from their future first home on Boston Neck Road before later raising their family on North Grand Street. She was co-founder of Chestnut Oak Associates on Mountain Road and a top producing Real Estate Agent for decades. Joanne accomplished much right across the street from Chestnut Oak at the Town Hall as a member first of the Board of Finance and later on the Board of Selectman for many years. Joanne wove herself into the fabric of this town for the better part of the last century. The term “one of a kind” has become somewhat cliché, but Joanne Sullivan was truly “one of a kind”. Joanne had the very unique and special ability to make a difference in the community without making it about herself. She genuinely cared deeply about the people and the Town of Suffield, both its rich history, its current state and its future, acutely aware that these three things are forever intertwined. It cannot be overstated the impact Joanne has had on not only the Town of Suffield but all of the people that came into her orbit. Joanne was widely respected and loved by so many. Joanne’s generosity through her work, time and resources was far reaching and always given to where it was needed most and in true Joanne fashion, without much fanfare or attention on her. She had the ability to pause everything going on around her and give you her complete, undivided attention. When you were with Joanne her focus was on you as if you were the only one in the room and the only thing that mattered in that moment. She connected with everyone she met and the strength in her voice always left you with a lasting impression.
While Joanne was firmly rooted in Suffield, she had a vast outlook on life and lived a worldly lifestyle. Her love and desire to travel brought her all over the globe including as a volunteer on multiple medical missions to Haiti, her favorite destination, Vatican City and trips to Australia and Alaska. Her passion for adventure and willingness to experience new things brought her to safaris in Africa and sky diving and zip lining when she was in her 60s. In her free time, Joanne could most likely be found on a nearby sideline. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that between her husband’s 50 years as a Hall of Fame high school soccer and basketball coach, her five sons’ athletics, her son David’s 30 years of coaching Suffield High School soccer, her twelve grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, no one has spent more time watching games and rooting from the Suffield sidelines than Joanne.
Joanne is already deeply missed by her family, her friends, the Town of Suffield, the sidelines and beyond. Undoubtedly, many of you holding this month’s edition of the Observer have your own fond, personal memories of Joanne. The best way to honor and remember Joanne is to embody and pass on the values that she exemplified and taught through the wonderful life she lived: Get involved. Be heard. Give back to your community. Smile. Be adventurous in your travel. Be respectful of everyone’s opinion while being sure to express your own. Know when to give advice and when to just listen. Realize you are always representing more than just yourself. Laugh. Bring people together. Be self-aware. Make a meaningful difference. Support one another. Prioritize what matters. Be impactful. Remember your roots. Take pride in what you accomplish. Mentor the next generation. Be gracious.