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Mary Ellen Sullivan

1959 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Mary Ellen Sullivan Obituary
Mary Ellen Sullivan

AGE: 56 •

1959 - 2016. Mary Ellen Sullivan, a writer, avid traveler and blogger of joy, died of ovarian cancer on Sunday, March 13, at Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago, IL. She was 56.

Sullivan, a longtime resident of Chicago, was born in Harlingen, Texas. After frequent moves, her family settled in Wilmington, Delaware. She was a 1977 graduate of Concord High School and a state champion swimmer. Sullivan earned a bachelor's degree in English from Boston College in 1981 and a master's degree in magazine journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in 1982. Upon graduation, she took a job as a magazine editor at General Learning Corporation, a small educational publishing house in Highland Park, then later ran the publications department for Advocate Health Care, in Oak Brook, IL.

But in her early thirties, she steered her life in a different direction. After a transformational year-long journey around the world, Sullivan launched a freelance writing career. She designed her life so that she could continue to travel and write, and she established strong roots in Chicago, a city whose cultural institutions and out-of-the-way treasures she never tired of showing to visitors. Her deepest calling, though, may have been as a keeper and chronicler of joy. Her blog, On the Wings of the Hummingbird, started in March 2012, is a compendium of wisdom and joy. One of her more poignant entries ended with this insistent instruction: "And if you love the life you have, please, please, practice gratitude. Wake up every morning acknowledging just how much beauty is in your world. Pay attention to it, honor it, and keep your heart and your eyes wide open. You won't regret it."

Sullivan was preceded in death by her partner of 18 years, Michael Schmitt. She is survived by her parents, Donal and Martha Sullivan, of Wilmington, Delaware and Bonita Springs, FL; two brothers, Bill (Tricia) and John (Jennifer) Sullivan, a sister, Sheila (Ken) Zimmerman, five nieces, two nephews, and a devoted circle of friends. Memorial services are pending.
Published in The News Journal on Mar. 18, 2016
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