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Diane Sullivan Obituary

Brought to you by Verheyden Funeral Home

Diane Sullivan

August 20, 1937 - June 24, 2023

Diane Sullivan Obituary

Diane Francis Sullivan, passed away peacefully on Saturday, June 24, 2023 in White Lake, Michigan at the age of 85 after a remarkable fight to recover from a stroke for five and a half years. Diane was a beloved member of the Grosse Pointe and White Lake Communities. She was the definition of a strong, loyal, funny, hardworking, caring, faithful and Irish mother, grandmother, great grandmother, Godmother, aunt, friend, teacher, volunteer, church member, caretaker and top notch hostess. She was also a "surrogate" mother and grandmother to countless people throughout her life even up until her last days.

Diane was born on August 20, 1937 in Detroit, Michigan to Edward and Ruth Howell. While only having one younger brother, Richard Howell, Diane's house or Cooley Lake cottage was filled with countless other family members and friends at all times. Even in her last moments, she was most comfortable being surrounded by large, noisy crowds of family and friends. Diane wanted every day to be a celebration and she was always prepared to throw a party together at a moment's notice. To Diane each day of life was a gift and celebrated to the fullest.

Education was of huge importance to Diane. She attended St. Clare of Montefalco Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Park, Dominican High School in Detroit, and received a teaching degree from the University of Detroit. She later earned a Master's degree from Boston College. Diane also made sure that her own children had a strong Catholic school foundation as well as to continue to their highest level of education in their fields.

Teaching was not just a job for Diane, but her passion and way to do God's work. She began teaching in The Detroit Public School System for several years until she took a break to raise her five children, Kathleen, Michael, Maureen, Kelly and Mary Shannon. However, she later became a permanent substitute teacher at St. Clare of Montefalco school where her children now attended as she had. She loved being a Girl Scout Leader, helping with school events, going on field trips, being the producer of school, church and community theater plays and performances, being part of many church committees, visiting the sick, and making and serving countless meals for people in need such as St. Leo's Soup Kitchen. (Diane served 150 meals there on the day she had her stroke, March 13, 2018.) She was part of so many of the traditions started at St. Clare. And she generously contributed all she could for the tuition or supplies for many St. Clare students.

While continuing to support St. Clare of Montefalco school and parish, Diane went back to work full time as a teacher in the Detroit Public schools at Goodale Elementary School (now known as William J. Beckham Academy.) She absolutely adored her school babies and did all she could to provide them with the best learning experience each day. Diane loved to play the piano and was passionate about using music to teach and motivate her students to learn. Besides teaching academics with strong rigor, she made sure her students had other experiences such as field trips to the theater, plays, the zoo, to farms, and more. She would spend hours finding and fighting for grant money to fund these events as well as lots of her own money to provide her students with school supplies, hats, mittens, and even rides to school. She was most proud of the Black History Program she would put on each year. She found someone to make authentic African outfits for each student to wear, arranged for Kings from Africa that would come to speak to the children, helped her first grade students prepare speeches and songs to perform, and found someone to prepare delicious traditional African food for the children and their guests to enjoy. One of her last songs she sang in her final days was her class song. "We're in Mrs. Sullivan's classroom. We're the best of the bunch...We are smart, strong, good looking too, We are Mrs. Sullivan's Bunch."

Diane divided her time each year of life between her Detroit/Grosse Pointe Community and her Cooley lake/White Lake Community. She loved them both dearly and had so many friends and connections on both sides of town. She loved to pack up the car after the school year was over and head to the family cottage of Cooley Lake and escape city life. She loved nothing more than to swim, go for boat rides, waterski (until the age of 69 when she switched to riding a tube), visit the library and read all day in a hammock, entertain and play hostess constantly, play cards, garden, watch some great fireworks, and spend quality time with family and friends. She,also, loved going to church in the summer at St. Patrick's church in White Lake and liked volunteering there as well. She also loved to travel and visited many different places such as Trinidad, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Australia, Germany, Poland and her final trip was to the Holy Land.

After her retirement, Diane continued to divide her time between her house in Grosse Pointe and her cottage on Cooley Lake. However, she did not spend her retirement relaxing. She just found more time to devote to her family, friends, both churches, volunteering with homeless projects, assisting with the Friends of Vision project, working at the gift shop at Beaumont Hospital, throwing countless parties for family and friends (St. Patrick's Day was celebrated the entire month of March and her birthday was celebrated the entire month of August) and becoming a part of her youngest daughter, Shannon MacIsaac's classroom each year. She would be that extra pair of hands and support needed at Country Oaks Elementary in Commerce Township. Diane would continue to teach students there through music and play the piano to accompany the students as they performed in holiday shows and year end celebrations for their families.

After her stroke, she continued to try to teach, counsel, and tell the staff at her assisted living facilities that they were loved, valued and made a difference in the world. She would listen to them and treat them as family. She always wanted to offer someone something to eat or drink and played hostess until the end. She loved to dress up and decorate for all the holidays and insisted on hosting all the family events until she had her stroke at 80. And even after her stroke, the family came to wherever she was to gather and celebrate holidays so she could feel like she was still the host.

Diane, Lady Di, Bird, Mrs. Sully, Mom, Grandma will be missed tremendously by her family, friends and the communities she was a part of. She brought the fun to any event and wanted to make everyone feel recognized and celebrated. Diane was predeceased by her parents, Edward and Ruth Howell and her brother, Richard Howell. She is survived by her ex-husband and friend, Dr. Michael R. Sullivan "Tim" and their children, Kathleen Weber (Steve), Michael Sullivan, Maureen Phelps (Tom), Kelly Montaglione (Chris) and Mary Shannon MacIsaac (Scott). Her greatest joy also came from her grandchildren, Lindsey Leonowicz (Nick), Bridget Sullivan Schriefer (Ted), Maggie Phelps, Melissa Sullivan, Jordan Taronji, Timothy Drake Weber, Andrew Taronji, Joey Phelps, Sean Montaglione, Sarah MacIsaac and Alex Phelps. And her precious great grandchildren Emerson, Charlotte, Sadie and Bodie Leonowicz.

A Celebration of Life is planned for Friday, August 11, 2023 at St. Clare of Montefalco Church at 1401 Whittier Road in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan 48230. (Parking lot is actually off Mack Avenue). The family will be receiving guests from 11:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. before the Funeral Mass. A Funeral Mass will start at 12:00 p.m. with a luncheon and memory sharing event to follow in the church basement.

In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes can be made to St. Leo's Soup Kitchen and/or St. Clare School. Please make checks payable to St. Clare School PTO, St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic School, 16231 Charlevoix, Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230.

To share a memory or send a condolence gift, please visit the Official Obituary of Diane Sullivan hosted by Verheyden Funeral Home.


Event information can be found on the Official Obituary of Diane Sullivan.