Mary Ann Rossel Sullivan was born on August 12, 1928 in Okawville, Illinois. The middle child of Anna Mary Trost and Anthony Alphonsus Rossel, she grew up working on the family farm with her six brothers and sisters. After graduating from Okawville High School in 1946, where she was on the girl’s basketball team, Mary moved to St. Louis to work for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat newspaper. She also proudly served in the Navy Reserves, doing her part to support the active duty troops stationed near St. Louis.
It was in St. Louis that Mary met her future husband Eugene Forrest Shofner Sullivan of Fayetteville, Tennessee, who was stationed at Scott Air Force Base. Mary and Gene married in 1951 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1953 after Gene returned from a two-year tour in Japan during the Korean Conflict. They started their family in Nashville, and after a brief move to Alabama, settled in Tallahassee, Florida in 1958 where their second daughter was born.
Mary called Tallahassee home for more than 50 years and the Waverly Hills neighborhood park commemorates her place in that community with a tree standing in her honor. Mary loved her lifelong careers as an insurance professional with the State of Florida’s Department of Insurance, retiring after 35 years, and as a real estate agent with close friend Jan Soto of Jan Soto Realty.
Mary was a competitive bridge player, attaining the rank of Life Master. Her blood ran Garnet and Gold in support of her beloved Florida State Seminoles, her jewelry was big and her dancing shoes were always on. Mary loved to travel and one of the highlights of this passion was a visit to her ancestral home in Hallgarten, Germany. She was very proud of her German heritage.
Most of all, Mary loved her family and instilled in her daughters and grandchildren strong values that have served them well. She was their biggest supporter. She will be dearly missed and forever in their hearts.
Mary spent her last five years between Birmingham, Alabama and Ocean Springs, Mississippi to be closer to her children and grandchildren. Mary always had a smile on her face, never met a stranger and made lasting friendships wherever she went.
Mary passed away peacefully on Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Ocean Springs, surrounded by family, after a brief illness stemming from COVID-19.
Mary is preceded in death by her parents, her brothers Maurice Bernard Rossel and Lawrence John Rossel, and her sister Blanche Barbara Wolff. She leaves behind her two brothers, Lt. Col. Retired Eugene David (Anne) Rossel and Jerome Allen Rossel; her sister Ruth Eva Begley; her sister-in-law Carol Aitken Rossel, her two daughters, Dana Margaret Clark and Calli Sullivan Bailey (Charles); seven grandchildren, Charissa (Wayne) Borries, Shawn (Brent) Gauthreaux, Carlen (Thomas) Williams, Ashley (Michael) Burbage, Christina (David) Fettig, Taylor (Jessica) Clark and David (Emily) Bailey; 13 great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends who will all miss her immensely.
A faithful Catholic, Mary’s Funeral Mass and Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 11:15 a.m. at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Ocean Springs. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the service will be limited to immediate family. The celebration will be live streamed on the St. Alphonsus Facebook page at the time of service. The internment will be at St. Barbara’s Cemetery in Okawville, Illinois, later in the year when travel is safer. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to your favorite charity. The family would like to thank Lighthouse Senior Living and Notre Dame Hospice for the loving care and support they gave to Mary and her family in her final days.