Obituary of Thelma E. Sullivan
Thelma E. Sullivan, of Bowie, MD (former longtime resident of Madison, NJ), died peacefully at home on Sunday, May 23, 2021 surrounded by the love of her family. She was 99.
Thelma was born on December 31, 1921 in Woodstown, NJ to the late Rev. James H. and Phyllis Ellis. The family relocated to Madison, NJ where Thelma and her two sisters, Clementine and Lillian, were raised on Walnut Street in Madison and attended the Madison Public School system. She graduated from Madison High School in 1942 and received a BS in Education from Wilberforce University in Ohio in 1946. She was married to David Sullivan and they were longtime residents of Madison on Cedar Street.
Thelma was a kind and very generous person, always helping those in need. She was an incredible, giving and loving aunt to her nieces and nephews. Thelma received her State of New Jersey Teaching Certificate in 1953. She was a very popular Home Economics teacher at Peshine Avenue and Avon Avenue Schools in Newark, NJ until she retired. Thelma was a wonderful teacher that will be lovingly remembered by generations of her students. She had a long career as a home economics teacher for over 30 years with the Newark Public School System. Thelma always looked out for her students, especially the children who were in need or those that lived in difficult family situations. For many years Thelma also hosted “Fresh Air Kids”, inner city children from NYC for daily outings and activities to get them out of the city environment for the day. After retiring, Thelma volunteered at Central Avenue School in Madison.
Thelma was an active member of the Madison community and with her church family at the Bethel AME Church of Madison. She attended church every Sunday, was a member of the gospel choir, taught Sunday school and was also an usher for many years. Thelma belonged to a church group called Helping Hands, the Pastor’s Aide, helping many people in the community. She and several other members of the church were dedicated members of the “Task Force”, a community focused charitable organization. Thelma was also a dedicated member of the Eastern Stars. She enjoyed her Parkinson’s dance classes on Saturdays.
Thelma loved music and in addition to singing in the church choir, she was a member of the Madison Drum and Bugle Corps during the 1940s and participated in many marching band events over the years. She had many dear and lifelong friends who she enjoyed spending time with. Thelma was an avid card player and belonged to a group of ladies who fondly referred to themselves as the “Golden Girls”, who met regularly to play games of bridge and pinochle. In the 1960’s, Thelma was a member of the Green Door Players theatrical group that performed at Madison High School. Thelma was well known for her delicious pound cakes, a talented seamstress, loved to crochet and teach calligraphy. Thelma always brought a smile to everyone’s face with her warmth and kind heart. She also loved to crochet small items for friends and family.
In 2001 Thelma began the next chapter of her life when she moved from her hometown of Madison to Bowie, MD to be closer to her family. She had a very full and comfortable life up until her last days.
Thelma will be deeply missed by her family and friends.
In addition to her parents, Thelma was predeceased by her sisters, Clementine Johnson & Lillian Harris; niece, Jacqueline Brown; and nephew, James “Jimmy” E. Johnson (Karen). She is survived by three nieces, Phyllis Johnson & Wendy-Jo Johnson both of Bowie, MD, and Linda Johnson of Madison, NJ; nephew, Charles Johnson (Elaine) of Kenvil, NJ; sister, Genevieve DePew of California and many relatives and friends.
A very special note of gratitude to her devoted caregiver, Sonji and Capital Caring Health Hospice Services and the dedicated Dr. Leach and Dr. Djamson. Thelma also very much appreciated the entire Bread of Heaven ministry that supplied her with lunch every Saturday. And a deep heartfelt thank you to the group of friends who checked in on Thelma when we were out of the country.
Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend a visitation to celebrate Thelma’s life held from 10:00AM to 11:00AM on Thursday, June 3, 2021 at the Madison Memorial Home, 159 Main Street, Madison, followed by a funeral service at 11:00AM held at the funeral home. For those that wish, you may attend virtually by visiting the Madison Memorial Home Facebook page at 11:00AM on Thursday to view the funeral services. Interment will follow at Heavenly Rest Cemetery, East Hanover.
In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions may be made in Thelma’s memory to the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area (PFNCA), 8830 Cameron Street, #201, Silver Spring, MD 20910
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