Gwen Sullivan

Obituary of Gwen Sullivan


Gwenneth Ann Sullivan, 84, of Fresno, California, died March 4th, 2024 in Clovis, California while residing at Magnolia Crossing Assisted Living.

Gwen was born on January 5th, 1939, to John and Daisy Frances Briscoe in Arnprior, Ontario, Canada. She was baptized Catholic prior to her marriage to Daniel Joseph Teevens. She married Dan on June 4th, 1959, having three children (Perry, Danny, and Cheryl). Dan was a sergeant in the Ottawa Police force when he passed away from colon cancer on June 11,1975 sixteen years after her marriage. Gwen remarried to Joseph Edward Sullivan on August 24,1979 in Fresno, California.

Gwen grew up the youngest of her five siblings (John, Helen, Rita, Kenny, and Beth) and attended grade school and high school in Arnprior. Early in her life she was diagnosed with polio, which she overcame with the care and comfort of family and friends. Her childhood was a place filled with fond memories such as learning to ride a bike with the guidance from Helen her eldest sister, the pleasure of playing with dolls made by her mother with leftover fabric and relishing in the endearing friendships of her simple small town.

After marrying Dan in 1959 at age 20 they moved to Ottawa where she earned a diploma in cosmetology and hair dressing. In the 1970’s she  worked in a variety of roles, such as: Lynwood Park and Recreation high school summer assistance program teaching arts, crafts, and water  safety; an instructor at Silver Springs Farm for persons with developmental disabilities helping with living skills, pattern cutting, and sewing; supporting impoverished families with food and clothing by way of St. Vincent de Paul affiliation; noontime supervisor and field trip assistant at her children’s elementary school, Our Lady of Peace; and serving as library and kitchen assistant at her sons’ high school, St. Pius X.

After the passing of her husband, Gwen opened a hair salon in downtown Ottawa which remained in operation until 1978. Here she perfected her hair dressing skills as a small business owner. She married her second husband, Joe Sullivan, and moved with her three children to Fresno, California. In 1982 Joe and Gwen became co-owners of Sullivan’s Irish Imports, a wholesale Irish merchandise business which they continued for over 30 years traveling to Ireland many times for business, and pleasure.

Yet, what motivated and excited Gwen was service to others. Not one year after moving to Fresno she became a volunteer for La Tienda Guild where she fundraised for Valley Children’s Hospital at their thrift store. Coinciding with this service was her studying and coursework to become a docent at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. She was accepted and beloved for over twenty years serving as a tour guide, teaching children and adults about birds, the rainforest, flamingos, and even constructing from scratch a wet suit for a critically injured seal.

As grandmother, she took great pleasure doting on her five grandchildren (Mackenzie, Bailey, Megan, Kate, and Erin). She would have sleepovers with hot water bottles warming their beds on cold nights, VHS videos chosen by the kids, hot dogs, french fries, and some ice cream for dessert. Dresses were created, designed, and sewn for each by hand. Each birthday the grandkids would receive a card in the mail along with a generous amount of cash. Complete meals were made and served on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter if families were in town, often opening the home to priests, friends, or others who she thought would enjoy a good meal.

The only thing that stopped her from attending church services every Sunday, mowing the lawn weekly, gardening daily, cooking, early morning water aerobics, and serving others relentlessly was the onset of dementia during COVID, 2020. Ultimately, Gwen’s finest quality was being a humble Godly servant for her family, grandkids, friends, co-workers, and anyone in need.

Gwen is survived by her sister (Beth), children, grandchildren, great grandchild (Darcy), dear friend Sister ‘Cellie’ Celestine, and many relatives and friends.

She is preceded in death by her husband, parents, siblings (John, Helen, Rita, and Kenny), and some relatives and longtime friends from Canada, Ireland, and the Fresno area.

Gwen will be cremated and interred at St. Peters Catholic Cemetery in Fresno, California close to Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

Feel free to post your condolences and any remembrances on the online guestbook.