You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “they don’t make them like they used to” and those words surely can be applied to Dolores Sullivan who died last weekend at the age of 85.

The former mayor of South Toms River and bus driver for the Toms River Regional School District was more than anything the matriarch of a large and loving family and if you were one of the many who attended her viewing yesterday at Carmona-Bolen in Toms River you couldn’t miss them.

Dolores and her late husband James raised 11 children, a number that was not uncommon in Irish families a generation or two before not anymore.  What’s more she had to take on the role of mother and father after losing her husband and she did so at times with an iron fist.

Those 11 children gave her 25 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren and memories to last several lifetimes.  I had actually only met Dolores on a couple of occasions but have heard a few stories about her and simply put she was a “classic” and a product of a shrinking generation whose values are fading away with them.

Most of us can’t even imagine what it would be like to raise a family of 7 girls and 4 boys but she did it with discipline and love and from what I’ve heard “tough love” when need be.

Her daughter Ronnie Jean told me yesterday that a Christmas tradition in the Sullivan Family was for Dolores to hand the children a note telling them that one of their gifts did not actually go to them but others.  She would purchase a needed item for a family in a poor country, even cows and goats because that’s what Christmas was all about.

Dolores was one of those who performed acts of kindness without even her children knowing…she didn’t want any credit or attention because it was what you should do.

Today Michael, Arlene, Katie, James, Bernadette, Dolores, Danny, Ronnie Jean, Anna, Joseph and Barbara will say their final goodbyes to a woman whose greatest accomplishment lives on in them and their families.  They’ll be comforted by the knowledge she’ll be watching over them.


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