Missing Margaret, My Second Mom

My dear friend Mary Sullivan and her mother, Margaret Sullivan.

My dear friend Mary Sullivan and her mother, Margaret Sullivan.

I’ve been at a loss for words to describe the passing of another very important person in my life. Margaret Sullivan, the mother of my dear friend Mary Kay and grandmother of my BFF (Best Friend Forever) Katie Sullivan Booth, passed away just after I left Virginia last week. Dave travelled to Blacksburg for her funeral, but unfortunately I missed the event.

Margaret was like a second mother to me. She lived less than a mile away and she did her best to take good care of my sister and me. I remember the day we met vividly. She was the dietician for Price’s Fork Elementary School. We’d just moved onto a new place that was close to the school.

It was August 1979 and I was nine years old. Margaret was selling lunch tickets and when I got to the front of the line, she said how glad she was that we’d moved there. She and Mary Kay attended the same church as my family, she said, and she hoped we could car pool to CCD. Answers.com explains that CCD is the name for:

The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine [and it] was an association established in 1562 in Rome for the purpose of providing religious education. In its more modern usage, CCD is the religious teaching program of the Catholic Church. These classes are taught to school age children to learn the basic doctrines of their faith.

As a result, I spent a great deal of time with Margaret.

Over the years, she always encouraged me and praised me for setting a good example for my friends. (Mary Kay, Katie, and the rest of our group were all younger than me.) It was difficult at times, living up to the role she’d cut out for me, but I took it quite seriously. I remember have the gumption to say, “No!” more than once in tenuous circumstances. I felt that the fate of more than me rode on my decisions. All those times I was behind the wheel with them in tow on the way to some 4-H event or other, I surely was in an important position.

In earlier years, our little group spent most New Year’s Eves at the Sullivan house, playing cards and sipping ginger ale in our pajamas at the midnight hour.

Margaret and her husband Richard (a native West Virginian who served in the Army Air Corp in Europe during WWI) were highly active in the local grange hall, where our 4-H club met. They helped raise money for me to study abroad through the International 4-H Youth Exchange (IFYE) program in 1994. (That’s when I met Esther.) A contributor on geocashing.com’s ground speak forums explains: “The grange was a movement/organization started by farmers in the late 19th century (in the northern midwest, I think). It started out as a social organization and later got involved in politics. Grange halls can be found all over the US.

Over the years, Margaret was there to give me helpful advice in areas where I needed it. For instance, when CCD didn’t explain the essentials of life, Margaret lent me books (like those by Judy Blume). Thank goodness for that! I might still be in the dark on life otherwise!!!!! She was an avid reader, as her obituary asserts.

And Margaret stuck by me in my darkest hour of life. When I found I couldn’t be a stellar specimen of humanity in everything I did, she was there to help; she went to bat for me at a critical moment. For that, and for everything she did to help raise my sister and me, I remain eternally grateful.

God bless you, my dear Margaret. May you find peace and joy watching over your proud Sullivan (and Massie) lineage.


  1. Thank you Shannon. Mom knew who she could trust with her child and grandchild. And thank you for being such a wonderful role model! I told Dave that I knew you were standing next to him because no matter how far away you were I knew you were with us in spirt. No matter how far apart we are or how many years between visits I still think of you and Heather as my sisters. Love ya. Mary



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