Patricia A. (Sullwold) McMahon, age 72, wife of James H. McMahon, passed away Sunday May 9, 2021 at her home in Lakeville. Born in New Orleans Louisiana on Thursday August 5, 1948, she was the daughter of the late William S. and Collette (Dumoulin) Sullwold. As a teenager Patricia moved from New Orleans LA, to Taunton MA, and attended Bishop Cassidy High School. She continued her education at Bridgewater State College earning her Bachelor’s degree and then her Master’s degree. She was for 35 years, a school teacher for the Taunton Public School system. A communicant of Sacred Heart/St. Isadore Parish in Middleboro, she enjoyed ballroom dancing and was a gourmet cook as well as a talented watercolor artist. She participated in the Lakeville Library’s popular annual art show in the Great Ponds Gallery called: “Book – Art – Bloom”, combining her love of reading with her watercolor illustrations. In addition to her husband James of 46 years, Patricia is survived by; her brother Stephen Sullwold of Middleboro, sister in law, Ann McMahon of Newport RI, aunt, Mrs. William Dumoulin of Taunton, and her cousins in Taunton, New Jersey, and the New Orleans LA area. She was much beloved and will be dearly missed by her family and many friends. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday May 19, 2021 at Sts. Martha & Mary Catholic Church at 10:00AM. Visitation will take place on Tuesday May 18, 2021 from 4:00 – 7:00PM. Patricia will be laid to rest at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne on Thursday May 20th 2021 at 10:30AM. In lieu of flowers donations in Patricia’s memory may be made to: Friends of the Lakeville Public Library, 4 Precinct Street Lakeville, MA 02347, or a charity of your choosing.
* Below is a copy of the eulogy that Patty's sister in law Ann McMahon prepared to share at Patty's service.*
Patricia Ann (Sullwold) McMahon
Remarks were composed by Ann McMahon from interviews with Cathy Andrade, Linda Connelly, Mona Cross, Lestyn Gilmore, Marilyn Masaitis, Maddie McKenna, Jim McMahon and Steve Sullwold . It is by no means an exhaustive list of those who hold her dear.
Creative. Caring. Capable. Witty. Vibrant. Optimistic. Talented. Smart. Patricia (aka “Pat” and “Patty”) Sullwold McMahon was all these things.
Born in Orleans Parish, New Orleans, Louisiana to Collette and William Sullwold in 1948, she moved with her family to Taunton, Massachusetts when a teenager.
Patty has a special relationship with her brother, Steve Sullwold. They revel in the memories of their early years growing up in New Orleans. As his big sister, she included him always and continued to encourage and watch out for him all her life.
Patty graduated from Bishop Cassidy High School in 1966. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Bridgewater State College in 1970 and went on to receive a M.Ed. degree with a concentration in the use of Audio Visual Aids in education. She and her college friend Cathy Andrade worked together on a project for their degrees that consisted of a series of lesson plans using Audio Visual Aids to enhance a middle school curriculum. Cathy credits Patty’s creative use of photography in this project for the hiring of both of them by the Taunton Public School System even before they graduated. Patty and Cathy started on the same date in 1970 and, coincidentally, retired on the same date in 2005.
Patty began her 35 year teaching career at the Bennett School, moving to the Joseph H. Martin School to teach grade six. She taught on one of the “teams” with her lifelong friend Maddie McKenna and also ran the photography club. After a year or two, Pat convinced her college friend Cathy Andrade to join the team at the Martin School, convincing her by describing that school as a place where the teachers were close, often going out after work on TGIF celebrations and even taking vacations together. One particularly good time was had on a trip to Hawaii where the group stayed at a hotel right on the beach. The trip was in April and Patty and Jim were to be married the following February. Cathy recalls Patty being in tears at having to part from Jim to take the trip.
Again and again, Patty’s friends describe her as “creative”, whether presenting her sixth grade students with imaginative projects or choreographing a dance routine for her and Jim to perform with the “Dream Team” of Lestyn’s Dance Academy. Over 30 years ago, Pat and Jim began their dancing and friendship with Jack and Lestyn Gilmore, taking ballroom, tap and other lessons from them. In recent years, Pat and Jim themselves taught ballroom dancing for those wanting to start this as a hobby or to young couples wanting to look good at their “first dance” at their wedding.
On their 25th wedding anniversary party, Patty and Jim were the entertainment as well as the guests of honor. Pat choreographed an elaborate and graceful ballroom dance which she and Jim danced to the recording of “May I Have This Dance for the Rest of My Life?” There was not a dry eye in the house.
Patty and Jim were a wonderful sight to behold on the dance floor. “They sparkled together”, said one observer. Their friend and mentor, Lestyn Gilmore said that the smile never left Patty’s face when she was dancing. Patty and Jimmy were also good tap dancers and they assisted Lestyn in ballroom dance instruction. Most recently, Pat and Jim enjoyed Rueda dancing which is a type of circle dance that came from Salsa de Casino in Cuba, meaning “Casino Wheel”. Like Square Dancing, couples change partners accompanied by Latin music.
An excellent seamstress, Pat made her own wedding dress, sewing the last seed pearls on almost up to the moment she walked down the aisle at Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, finishing it much to the relief of her mother, Collette.
Whatever activity or group Patty joined, she made things better. She designed and sewed creative costumes for herself and Jim as well as for the Dance Team. For one event, Patty was Goldilocks and Jim, Linda and Tom Connelly were the three bears. In another, Jim’s costume was a tuxedoed magician with a wand and top hat while she was the feathered dove that popped out of that hat. In a grand display, she dressed the entire Dance Team as a box of “Dunk’n Donuts”. Her sister-in-law, Ann McMahon, recalls one hilarious Easter Sunday when the whole family, including her wonderful Aunt Marge Wallwood, each donned a donut costume and had their own dance.
Patty’s cooking skills, especially her baking excellence, were legendary. Lucky guests will recall the “Standing Chef” menu board where the well thought out and delicious meals were displayed. For a time, the Dance Group had a sub-group called the “Dancing Gourmets”. Each couple brought a dish to a regularly held dinner. Maddie McKenna reported that most people brought a dish from a tried and true recipe but Patty, never one to duck a challenge, used it a reason to make a dish from a recipe she had not tried before.
Several people indicated that Patty inherited her artistic talent from her mother, Collette, a talented oil painter. Patty was an award-winning photographer. One prize was for an unusual photo of a colorful hot air balloon she took from above while she was in the higher balloon and photographed the lower balloon in which her husband and others were riding.
Pat excelled as a watercolor artist and studied painting with Betty Ashley in Lakeville. Her cousin, Mona Cross, a gifted artist herself, told how remarkable Patty’s watercolors were. She had a technique where she would apply the watercolor, wait for that coat to dry, and apply additional coats until she got exactly the color she was after. Mona remarked that one had to be patient and persistent to do that. Literally, she had to watch paint dry to get such exquisite results.
Patty’s interests were combined to their maximum effect in her annual participation in the Lakeville Library’s popular annual art show in the Great Ponds Gallery called: “Book – Art – Bloom”. She was a vociferous reader (she was described by a friend as either always on her way or just returning from the library with a load of books). Each artist chose a book and then created a painting referencing that book. Gardeners from the Lakeville Garden Club then created a flower arrangement reflecting the essence of that book and painting. To illustrate a clue for a murder mystery she painted a watercolor of an old rusted jalopy in a field being used as a "greenhouse" of sorts to grow beautiful flowers. Her friend Linda Connelly said that this speaks volumes about Patty's own personality. She always found the bright side and beauty in all kinds of situations. She said her imagination was tickled by the idea of this image and put many hours into its creation.
She and Jim had many travel adventures, starting with cruising on a sailboat along the New England coast with friends from the Tiverton, RI Yacht Club. Roaming further, they enjoyed steamboat trips along the Mississippi River and travelled as far as Australia. They logged 13 luxury cruises with their friends Maddie and Allen McKenna, often wowing the other passengers with their style and elegance on the dance floor.
Patty loved family and was the glue that allowed all to be together for every holiday. One could watch the years pass by looking at the group photo Patty took at the end of each gathering. Setting her camera on a tripod, Patty would press the timer and scoot into the photo at the last second to the merriment of all.
Patty loved to be with her constant companion and husband, Jimmy. She was his rock. Married for 46 years, they made a good team through the years and their joy in each other was apparent to all. She and Jimmy were partners not only on the dance floor, but also when they tackled home repairs, gardening and landscaping projects. And what a team - especially when they would conspire against the woodchucks!
They created not only a beautiful house and property, but a home where everyone was welcome. Their annual “dancing friends” pool party was a gala not to be missed!
Her sister in law, Ann McMahon, always told her she was the best thing to ever happen to any of the McMahons. She was a loving daughter in law and companion to Jim’s mother, Angela McMahon and father, James McMahon Sr.
All those interviewed talked about what a caring and loyal friend they had in her. It was heavenly for those in her informal painting group, Linda Connelly, her cousin Mona Cross, and Toni Card, to chat while they painted. Mona described her as a lifelong learner, taking watercolor and piano lessons in recent years. She added that Patty is the embodiment of grace and thoughtfulness whose patience and kindness is an inspiration for others.
Patty wore bright colors and all her life she was trim and youthful looking. More than one person who knows her well mentioned the smile that lit up a room, and her upbeat personality. More than one talked about her giving 100 percent to everything she did. Always happy to share her considerable knowledge, she was eager to teach others. Patty McMahon lived a loving life and brought joy, wit and beauty to the world.
At the end, her friends rallied around, providing comfort to her and giving support and respite to Jim. They are all grateful for the opportunity to care for the person who had been the caretaker for so many others.
I am closing with sentiments from close friend Linda Connelly:
“Hold on to thoughts of happier times…cookouts, dancing, teacher luncheons, art events, garden tours, vacations, family holidays and much more. What a wonderful list of how we are all connected to our dear friend. I wish continued strength and peace at heart for you all.
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