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Maria Ernestina Sullivan

August 6, 1925 October 3, 2021
Maria Ernestina Sullivan
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Obituary for Maria Ernestina Sullivan
Maria Ernestina Sullivan (nēe Celani). August 6, 1925 - October 3, 2021
Maria leaves behind her beloved sons, Joseph Sullivan and Kevin Sullivan, her daughters-in-law, Melissa Sullivan and Dee Sullivan, and her extended family, the Rakes. She was predeceased by her husband, Lt. Cmd. Joseph J. Sullivan, (USN).
An outstanding student, Maria proudly received her BA in library sciences from Simmons College in Boston. As a young librarian in New York City, she began trading recipes with neighbors. Her cheese pie recipe remains a treasured family favorite.
Maria was the daughter of Lucia (Della Santi) and Vincenzo Celani, Italian immigrants who settled in Providence. She followed the stories of other children of immigrants, curious about how they bridged the conflicting worlds of their peers and parents. Regardless of generational and ethnic divides, that experience was something she shared only with other children of immigrants.
Married to a submarine officer, she cared deeply for Naval families, welcoming them into the community and worrying with those awaiting news of loved ones at sea. Making a home for the family at every duty location, she traveled around the country as a young Navy wife, but determinedly returned to Rhode Island.
Her passion for the English language and community service led her to decades of volunteering as a reader for In-Sight Radio and assisting at North Kingstown Free Library. It also made her a formidable Scrabble opponent at NK Community Center. Maria enjoyed delivering Meals-on-Wheels with her friend and fellow mother-in-law, June Rake. Dining out with the “Ladies Lunch Bunch” brought her joy and the challenge of finding the best new restaurants, without use of the internet. She celebrated the successes of local actors and musicians, figure skaters and ice dancers.
Her love of reading is shared by the family she leaves behind, including her grandchildren, Laura Sullivan, and Kevin Sullivan (Noēlle Boucquey). Her young great-grandson, Nicolas Sullivan, is already a reading enthusiast. Maria was a longtime member of the community at the Seasons, where she frequently provided feedback. Respecting her wishes, funeral arrangements were private.

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