Saturday, May 29, 2010

Where It All Started

Today is John's and my 6th wedding anniversary. They have been an action-packed six years. I write this blog largely because of him. His dedication, perseverence, and hard work on behalf of Haitians give me something very meaningful to write about.

Many of these qualities John got from his mom, Mary Sullivan Carroll, who died last month at 95. We had spent much of the last three years caring for his mom, who was in declining health. At the end of the post, is her obituary which you can read if you'd like to learn about how amazing she was.

Mary had more in common with Haitians, with hardship, then we do. She was a young woman in the Depression when necessities like food and shelter weren't guaranteed. Her father and one of her three brothers died when she wasn't out of her teens. Her mother was sick and often needed care. But Mary didn't let these challenges stop her from becoming a stellar teacher or use them as excuses to complain about her lot. She cheerfully and energetically worked hard and inspired others, including her sons, to do so also. She helped build a wonderful life for her and her family.

Besides being generous financially, Mary helped Haitians in other ways by opening her home to them and most of all, raising a son who has been so committed to them. Thanks, John, for doing such a good job following the example of your mom. Happy Anniversary!

WEST PEORIA, IL - Mary Alta Sullivan Carroll, 95, of West Peoria died on Monday, April 26, 2010, at Methodist Medical Center, Peoria, IL, surrounded by her family.

She was born on July 12, 1914, in Macomb to Ambrose and Alta Arnold Sullivan. On Feb. 23, 1951, she married John Carroll, her beloved husband with whom she spent 27 wonderful years.

Mary was preceded in death by her husband on Jan. 14, 1978; her three brothers, Ambrose, John and Bill; and her grandson, Christopher.

She is survived by her two sons, John (Maria) Carroll of West Peoria and Tom (Diane) Carroll of Peoria; her six grandchildren, Jennifer (and fiance Loren), Tommy, John, Kate, Annie and Luke; and Young (Chhoung) La, who was like a son to her.

Mary received a bachelor of education degree from Western Illinois State Teachers College in 1935, and a master of science degree from the University of Illinois in 1949.

Mary was a teacher for 54 years at the grade school, high school, college and vocational levels. She taught everywhere from a one-room school house to Bradley University to Caterpillar. Other schools where she positively influenced hundreds of students include McKinley Grade School, Riverton, Springfield and Monmouth high schools, Peoria Central, Manual and Woodruff high schools, the University of Illinois and Manitoba Institute of Technology in Winnipeg, Canada, where Mary and her family spent two glorious summers. Mary primarily taught business and office occupation classes at the secondary and college levels.

Mary's vocation, both inside and outside the classroom, was helping people get the most out of their ability. She did this in such an inspiring, energetic, and indefatigable fashion that she had students from the 1930s and on who kept in touch with her and would often visit for a dose of her never-give-up optimism and advice. She was continually and enthusiastically helping friends and family with their projects and problems. She loved teaching her grandchildren and was a source of constant encouragement and support to them, holding vocabulary school around her kitchen table in the summer. She was active, walking and running well into her 80s and even went rock climbing on her 85th birthday. She was "sui generis."

Mary loved her home in West Peoria, which she and her husband built in 1957, and where she lived for 53 years. She filled it with beautiful objects, which she either created or negotiated bargain prices for. Her Catholic faith was of the utmost importance to her. She prayed the rosary frequently and demonstrated her beliefs through her actions and her courage.

Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Immaculate Conception Convent, 2408 W. Heading Ave. in West Peoria with recitation of the rosary at 7 p.m. Mary and her family have had a long and close friendship with the Heading Avenue Sisters and she wanted her services conducted there, surrounded by the Sisters whom she loved. The funeral Mass will be held at the convent on Saturday, May 1, 2010, at 11 a.m., with visitation an hour before. The Rev. James King will officiate. Burial will be in St. Mary's Cemetery after the funeral.

Wright & Salmon Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.

Memorials may be made to Haitian Hearts, 2727 W. Heading Ave., West Peoria, IL 61604. Haitian Hearts is a charitable organization started by her son that brings children from Haiti to the United States for heart surgery and which Mary named.

No comments: