Ella June (Harris) Sullivan O'Brien
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passed away peacefully on Jan. 28, 2014 with her loving family in attendance. She was born in Akron, Ohio on Feb. 26, 1933 to the late John A. and Ruth Harris. Preceded in death by her first husband of eight years, James Patrick Sullivan; and second husband of 46 years, Robert J. O'Brien.
She leaves daughter, Deborah (Thomas) Orr of Bath; son, David (Cathy) O'Brien of Roswell, Ga.; daughter, Maribeth Edminister of Bath; and daughter, Susan (John) Sirpilla of Canton. She leaves her grandchildren, Kate (John) Najmulski of Denver, Colo., T.J. (Ali) Orr of Copley, Cory (Courtney) O'Brien of Atlanta, Ga., Dr. Kelly (Robby) Pierson of Forsyth, Ga., Andrew Edminister of Akron, Madeline Edminister of Akron, Beau Sirpilla of Canton, Bella Sirpilla of Canton, Stone Sirpilla of Canton; and great-grandchildren, Lily, Caitlin and Anna Najmulski of Denver, Robbie and April Orr of Copley, Brody, Ella and Eisley O'Brien of Atlanta, Ga., Shaw Pierson of Forsyth, Ga.; and brother, Robert (Kathy) Harris of Bath; nephews, Nate Harris of New York City and Adam (Mieka) Harris of Cleveland. Tall and elegant, Ella defined class and exuded style; she was a renaissance woman ahead of her time: she attended Cuyahoga Falls High School and was a majorette extraordinaire baton twirling was just one of her many talents. She earned her college degree at Kent State and taught grade school in the early 1960's. After raising her family, she returned to school to become a reading specialist with the Akron Public Schools. But the proudest achievements of her life were the titles mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was a Girl Scout leader, active in Witan, Bath Alpha Garden Club, and a proud member of the Walsh Jesuit Mothers Club. An avid tennis player, she checked the boxes on her bucket list by attending all four major tennis opens: Wimbledon, the Australian Open, the French Open and the U.S. Open. Those events and others produced a fine collection of tennis skirts that she looked marvelous in well into her seventh decade. She loved sharing the game with her children and grandchildren, offering lessons and encouragement, along with offers to play anywhere anytime. She was also a businesswoman who, along with her dear friend, Becky Petty, opened The Knitting Basket in Ghent Square to teach countless customers the joys of knitting. Ella was a gracious hostess, a friend to many, an unabashed sun worshipper who loved everything about the beach except the water. She was also a convert to the Catholic faith who embraced the church by becoming a Eucharistic Minister at St. Hilary's. Also an adventuress, she traveled the world seeing everything from the Guinness Brewery to Kensington Palace, the Australian outback, and the great rivers of Europe to Hawaiian sunsets over Diamond Head. Despite the challenges her life presented, she faced it all with curiosity, determination and laughterlots of laughter. Though Alzheimer's robbed her of many things, it never stole her compassion and kindness toward others. We celebrate her life and will miss her terribly.
The family will receive friends on Friday, Jan. 31, from 48 p.m. at Ciriello & Carr Funeral Home on 39 S. Miller Road, Fairlawn, OH 44333. Mass of Christian Burial at St. Hilary Catholic Church on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 9 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Our Lady of the Elms High School, 1375 W. Exchange St., Akron, OH 44313.
CIRIELLO AND CARR,
Ciriello & Carr Funeral Home
39 S Miller Road Fairlawn, OH 44333
Published in The Repository from Jan. 30 to Jan. 31, 2014