Barbara J. (Gildea) Sullivan, 81, of Framingham died peacefully surrounded by her family after a lengthy illness.
Born in Watertown, she was the daughter of the late James A. Gildea and Barbara E. (Cummings) Gildea. Barbara was a graduate of St. Patrick’s High School in Watertown, and she remembered fondly one of her first jobs at Woodland Dairy, where she developed a lifelong love of ice cream. Summer vacations at Hampton Beach with her siblings and cousins were among her favorite memories.
Barbara graduated from Boston College School of Nursing in 1963. She was a natural as a nurse, and she loved working at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, where she also taught nursing students. Decades after her nursing days, she remained a go-to source for her children and grandchildren anytime someone needed healthcare advice, and her instincts were always sharp. As her children grew older, Barbara began a second career at tech publisher IDG, where she quickly became a pro at syndicated research and built many lasting friendships.
She created the most welcoming homes in Framingham and Mattapoisett, where she spent many summers with family and friends. She treasured her role as Grandma, Gram and Beama, and she loved every moment with her grandchildren. A true baby whisperer, there wasn’t an infant, toddler or child she couldn’t win over with her gentle demeanor and beautiful smile. She took every opportunity to visit and attend her grandchildren’s events – football, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, volleyball, theater, choir – and she loved being a part of it all.
She will be remembered most by her family as a loving mother, grandmother, sister, cousin and aunt.
Barbara is survived by her four children: Douglas Sullivan of Leonardtown, Maryland, Ann Bednarz and her husband Christopher of Minneapolis, Minnesota, David Sullivan and his wife Aimee of Norfolk, Virginia, and Gregory Sullivan of Framingham; her eight cherished grandchildren: Riley and Madison Sullivan, Ava, Charles and Samuel Bednarz, and Clare, Erin and Ryan Sullivan; her incredibly resilient and fabulous siblings Katherine Caldwell of Hudson, Donna Gildea of Dedham, and Thomas Gildea of Maynard; a loving and loyal cadre of Gildea cousins, nieces, and nephews, especially Carol O’Grady and her husband Michael of Framingham; and a slew of Sullivans who knew and love her, including her former husband Robert Sullivan of Mattapoisett, Marie and Gary Cox of Mattapoisett, Dick and Georgia Sullivan of Salt Lake City, Utah, Alexis Sullivan of Beverly, and many nieces and nephews whom she loved watching grow into terrific adults. She was predeceased by her much loved brother Jimmy Gildea and special cousins Jay McCarthy, Dianne McKinnon, and Robert McCarthy.
Family and friends are invited to remember Barbara’s life by gathering for visiting hours on Thursday, March 2, from 4-8 p.m. at the McCarthy, McKinney & Lawler Funeral Home, 11 Lincoln St., Framingham.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. Anselm Church, 100 Landham Rd., Sudbury, on Friday morning at 10 a.m. Interment will be private.
Memorial donations may be made in her name to CURE Epilepsy, a Chicago-based nonprofit that funds research in pursuit of a cure for epilepsy.
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