Ellen Marie (Tighe) Sullivan was born to Joseph and Nan Tighe on November 27, 1933 in Jersey City. She grew up in North Bergen, graduating Academy of Holy Angels in 1951.
She met Jim Sullivan, the love of her life, at a dance when she was only 16 years old. After graduating, Ellen worked for a time in the Empire State Building where she enjoyed not only the job but also the social life Manhattan offered, in the company of other young women.
After marrying Jim in 1955, the couple had 6 children in ten years. After several moves, to accommodate Jim’s career, they settled in a house on Riveredge Road in Tinton Falls and it was there that they raised their six and lovingly welcomed 15 grandchildren. The greatgrandchildren are currently numbered at 7, though number 8 is joyfully expected in a few months. For years, their house was routinely visited by children, and sleepovers at “Nana and Pops” were a highlight for Ellen and Jim and the grandchildren alike. Ellen’s grilled cheese sandwiches and her pancakes were a beloved treat and it seems no one has been able to replicate her magic in making them quite as good as she did.
In her children and grandchildren Ellen fostered a love of reading, the importance and value of social justice, a sense of volunteerism, kindness and, perhaps most important of all, how essential a great sense of humor is. To hear her laugh was to share in absolute and pure happiness, whether it was beckoned by the telling of a joke or a toddler’s antics, a teen’s wisecrack or the world at large.
Ellen and Jim were fortunate enough to take many a trip together…Ireland, England, France, California and Italy were some of their most memorable adventures but it was to Cape May where they often came, alone, to relax and enjoy the quiet beauty of the off-season. They loved each other wholly and unconditionally and it is hard to imagine a pair closer than them. Whether traveling or simply being at home, enjoying Bagel Oven bagels, listening to Jazz and the Blues while reading the New York Times (Ellen was also a NYT crossword aficionado), they enjoyed the company of each other as well as the family they were so proud of. To see them take to the dance floor was a beautiful sight…they knew each other’s moves so well they appeared choreographed and would literally dance circles around everyone else. Summers were spent on the beach of Sea Bright, at Chapel Beach Club, from 1973 until Jim’s passing in 2013.
Once her children were a bit older, Ellen worked for more than twenty years alongside her sister Barbara at Barbara Doyle Interiors in Red Bank. The two helped countless people choose décor and decorate their homes. Ellen was also a longtime volunteer at the Woman’s Exchange in Little Silver and ultimately served as their Board President. Ellen and Jim volunteered at St. Anthony’s Food Bank in Red Bank for years. They loved spending their Monday evenings greeting and serving all who visited and made a wonderful group of friends there. They loved their friends, the guests who used the pantry and, as with every other aspect of their lives, they absolutely loved the children. It was unfortunate when the group was unceremoniously disbanded by a new priest who sought to “clean house”. Ellen loved and was devoted to the Catholic Church but felt great sorrow and disappointment when various Church hierarchy sought to take it back to more conservative teachings.
Ellen cherished her independence and was greatly appreciative to never have to relinquish the keys to her car. She enjoyed her conversations with the people whose paths she crossed, particularly at Red Bank Foodtown and RiteAid. Her family thanks all those who always made her day brighter. We may not know you all by name but we know you by your kindness.
In the past few years Ellen loved spending time in Marlton at her daughter and son-in-law Patty and Jim’s. She liked seeing and spending time with them, her grandchildren and great grandchildren but it seems she loved spending time with the family dog, Henry, whom she called her “best friend”, most of all.
Ellen always loved certain tv shows and series: British mysteries, “This Old House”, ChicagoPD but it was watching MSNBC that she kept up with current events and news and it was at MSNBC that she could be heard exclaiming what became her battle cry, “What a jackass!”. She couldn’t abide the current President’s behavior, policies, mentality or face.
Ellen was predeceased by her husband of almost 60 years, Jim, son Danny and daughter Kate. She is survived by children Patty (Jim), Jimmy(Heather), Maddy and Mark (Tara) and daughter in law Sharon as well as her 15 beloved grandchildren and 7 (almost 8) great grandchildren, sisters Barbara and Sr. Pat. and dear friends Joan and Jerry Leary.
Visitation will take place at the John E. Day Funeral Home 85 Riverside Avenue Red Bank, NJ 07701 on Friday August 21, 2020 from 3-7PM.
A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at St. Leo the Great RC Church 50 Hurley’s Lane, Lincroft, NJ 07738 on Saturday August 22, 2020 at 11AM. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers kindly make donations to: Fulfill Food Bank 3300 NJ State Hwy. 66 Neptune City, NJ 07753.