Joseph Myles Sullivan

October 6, 1928April 29, 2021

Joseph Myles Sullivan, 92, known affectionately as “Papa Joe”, died peacefully Thursday, April 29, 2021, after a brief illness.

Joe was born to Irish immigrants, Myles and Elizabeth Sullivan, in Cambridge, MA. When he was in elementary school, his family moved back to Ireland for a couple of years. He loved his Irish heritage and passed his Irish pride on to his children and grandchildren. Joe was a great dancer, and was often the life of the party, singing, laughing, joking, and cutting up.

After serving in the US Army as a peacekeeper in Germany after World War II, Joe joined the Air Force, serving during the Korean War, and was stationed at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin. Through mutual friends, he met Rose Marie, the love of his life. They Married in MA, then settled in the Clarksville neighborhood in Austin where they raised 7 children, were lifelong members of St. Mary’s Cathedral, and were happily married for 61 years.

After the military, Joe worked as a letter carrier in Austin for 35 years. He made many friends along his mail route and enjoyed their daily visits over quick cups of coffee.

After Joe retired and for the next 25 years, he volunteered in the Mathews Elementary School library. The chance meeting with one of his many grandchildren, who attended Mathews, was the highlight of his day. What made Joe even happier was when Rose retired and joined him as a library volunteer. Mama Rose and Papa Joe were givers at heart, taking kids in need into their home, and spent decades going to garage sales on the weekends to collect for Coats for Kids, and purchasing baby clothes, furniture, and essentials and donating them to the church to give out to those in need.

Joe was a dedicated husband and father, taking on second and third jobs as the household budget required. But nothing gave Joe more pride and joy than becoming a grandfather. With such a large and doting family, Papa Joe felt like the luckiest man on earth. He always said, he had a good life.

Joe is survived by 6 children, 15 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren. They include his son Mike and his children Patrick, Katherine and husband Ryan Magee, Margaret and partner Paul Shattuck, Emily and partner James McLellan, and their Mother Nancy Newell-Becker, and Max and his mother, Hilary Higdon; son Joe Jr. and wife Janet and their children Matthew and Olivia; daughter Carol and her daughter Helen and husband Matthew Sinclair and their children, Myles, Avalon, and Maureen; son Jake and his sons, Jarrett and wife Marilyn (who’s expecting their first son), Brian and wife Violet and their daughters Garner and Palmer, and Clayton and wife Alissa; daughter Mary and her son Noah, and his father Patrick Clemens; and son David and wife Alicia and their children, Timothy, Richard, and Angeline. Joe is also survived by his deceased son, Tim's partner, Scott Hall. Preceding him in death are Joe’s wife, Rose; son, Tim; daughter-in-law, Paula; and son-in-law, Charles Taylor.

We will all miss Papa Joe, and his infectious laugh and smile, but we are comforted knowing he has reunited with his true love and guiding spirit, Mama Rose. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Papa Joe’s favorite charity - Christian Children’s Fund, 2821 Emerywood Parkway, Richmond, VA 23294-3728. Due to Covid precautions, a memorial will be held at a later date.

“Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day, unseen, unheard, but always near, Still loved, still missed and very dear.”


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Joseph Myles Sullivan

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Patricia Salcher

May 4, 2021

I remember Papa Joe from all the years he volunteered at Mathews Elementary. I cherish all the memories I have of the many years I taught there and encountered Joe when I brought the children to the library. His kindness, humor and devotion to helping out was an inspiration to me and so many others. Papa Joe will be greatly missed. I love you Papa Joe! God bless you.
Trisha Salcher