Cover photo for Dr. Patricia Rose Sullivan's Obituary
Dr. Patricia Rose Sullivan Profile Photo

Dr. Patricia Rose Sullivan

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Patricia Rose Sullivan of Virginia Beach, VA, passed away on November 7, 2021, at the age of 85 after a brief illness. She was born on May 16, 1936, in Lausanne, Switzerland, to parents Patrick J. Sullivan, MD, and Marie Pélissier Sullivan. She is survived by her daughter, Vonnique Van Way Dowling, and son-in-law, Mark, and her grandchildren, Sean and Liliana Dowling. She is also survived by sisters, Yvy Forney (Eddie) and Christy Krug (Steve) as well as nephews and niece, John, Ned and Suzanne Forney.

Dr. Sullivan (Madame Sullivan), known to her friends and family as Patricia, Patty, Pat or Patsy, grew up in Puerto Rico, where her father was a doctor. Patricia gained her love of language and travel from her parents who, due to her father’s work as a Public Health Service doctor, were stationed all over the world, including Greece, Germany, England and the United States.
Wherever she lived, Patricia attended local schools and spoke Spanish, French and German fluently. Patricia went on to attend Hotel Management schools in London and Heidelberg, and
worked for a time in that field in Chicago. Pat earned her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University (‘62; Go Hoyas!), and her Master’s (‘69) and PhD (‘75) from the University of Virginia, with a specialization in French Literature.

In 1972, Dr. Sullivan started her teaching career at Virginia Wesleyan College, where she was one of the first first female professors. Understanding the importance of studying abroad, Dr.
Sullivan launched and led the International Programs Office, while juggling a full teaching load. She cared deeply about and was well-loved by her students, and especially enjoyed traveling
with them on the January Term study abroad trips that she organized yearly. In 1998, the French Republic bestowed upon Dr. Sullivan the Order of Academic Palms for her service to the
promotion of French Culture. Dr. Sullivan retired in 2000 after serving 28 years at Virginia Wesleyan.

Patricia often said that her greatest pride came from being a single mother to Vonnique. Her grandchildren, Liliana and Sean, brightened her life more than anything in this world, and she
was especially proud of their compassion, their good sense of humor, and, bien sûr, the fact that they both spoke French beautifully. Dr. Sullivan loved all things French, kitty cats and Louis (her granddog), her home on the hill at Chic’s Beach, live oak trees, dancing and jazz, and a fine scotch at cocktail hour. We will miss your funny faces, your keen wit, and especially your passion, curiosity and conversations!

A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, May 15, from 12 to 2 p.m. in the Barclay Sheaks Art Gallery on the campus of Virginia Wesleyan University. Please wear bright colors.

Donations in Dr. Sullivan’s name may be made to, the International Rescue Committee, or a charity of your choice.
More information can be found on the website of Cunningham-Turch Funeral Home.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Patricia Rose Sullivan, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Gathering / Celebration of Life

Sunday, May 15, 2022

12:00 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

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