Lucille M. (Parthenais) Sullivan

Lucille M. (Parthenais) Sullivan
89; of Chelmsford and Lowell;
Pioneering Woman Bank President
in Massachusetts

CHELMSFORD/LOWELL -- Lucille Sullivan, born Lucille Parthenais to Herve and Lydia Parthenais of Mount Vernon Street in 1923, died on Saturday morning, at home in Chelmsford of natural causes at age 89.

She became the first woman in the Merrimack Valley to be named a bank president when she was chosen to lead the Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union in 1987 -- and it might be that she was the first woman president and CEO of any bank in the history of the Commonwealth.

Her father was a pharmacist and World War I veteran: an Army lieutenant who taught the art of grenade-throwing. Her husband of more than 50 years, Arthur Sullivan, who died in 2002, was also a banker (Vice President of the Union National Bank), and also, like Herve, a war veteran: master sergeant and recipient of the Bronze Star for his Army service in World War II.

Lucille's banking career began the year she finished atop her class at the Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsboro. From the Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union's official history, written for its centenary in 2011: "Lucille Sullivan began her banking career in 1941 as a part-time bookkeeper at the Union National Bank. As World War II siphoned male employees from the bank, Homer Bourgeois gave her the opportunity to learn every aspect of the industry. In 1975, Mrs. Sullivan became the Credit Union's first full-time employee and was named Treasurer the same year. The Credit Union was still open only two nights a week but Sullivan and one other employee would be working days and open the door when a member knocked. When examiners became aware of this informal practice, they required that the Credit Union be either open or closed. The Credit Union decided to open . . . . Lucille Sullivan gave her final report at the Credit Union's annual meeting on January 9, 1990. In the 15 years from her appointment as Treasurer in 1975 to her presidency and retirement, assets had grown from $20 million to $167 million." Lucille was president and CEO from 1987 to 1990.

Mrs. Sullivan's forebears came from Canada, and she grew up at an interesting time in Lowell. Her grandfather, Louis Victor Rochette, was a well-known doctor with a specialization in childbirth; when he died, it was said that he had delivered ten thousand babies. He delivered all of the French-Canadian ones, including Jack Kerouac, born in 1922. Dr. Rochette was at the house on Lupine Road, and Kerouac later remembered the incident in a letter to Neal Cassady, then fictionalized Rochette as "Dr. Simpson" in his novel Doctor Sax.

The Lowell lawyer, Joe Donahue once offered: "Lucille was the prettiest smart girl in Lowell, and the smartest pretty girl in Lowell." Later in life, she and her family were members of Vesper Country Club and active in the United Way. She was a weekly communicant at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Chelmsford.

She is survived by three children, Kevin R. Sullivan of Chelmsford, Robert B. Sullivan and his wife, Lucille Rossi of Mount Kisco, N.Y., and Gail F. Sullivan and her husband, Scott Page of Wellesley; and five grandchildren, Caroline, Jack and Mary Grace of Mount Kisco, and Callie and Jamie Page of Wellesley; and her sister, Clare Gavin, of Dracut.

SULLIVAN -- In Chelmsford, MA, May 18, 2013, Lucille M. (Parthenais) Sullivan, 89, of Chelmsford, retired President and CEO of the Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union, beloved wife of the late Arthur C. Sullivan. Friends may call at the O'DONNELL FUNERAL HOME, 276 PAWTUCKET ST. at Fletcher from 5 to 7 P.M. Tuesday. Her Funeral will take place from the Funeral Home Wednesday morning at 8 o'clock followed by a Funeral Mass to be celebrated at ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST CHURCH in NORTH CHELMSFORD at 9 o'clock. Burial in St. Joseph Cemetery in Chelmsford. E-condolences/directions at odonnellfuneralhome.com. Those wishing may make contributions in her memory to Merrimack Valley VNA Hospice, 360 Merrimack St., Lawrence, MA 01843. Arrangements by Funeral Directors, James F. O'Donnell, Jr. and John W. Crane (978 or 866) 458-8768.

Funeral Home

O'Donnell Funeral Home
276 Pawtucket Street Lowell, MA 01854
(978) 458-8768

Published in Lowell Sun on May 20, 2013