106 year old Elizabeth Sullivan shares her hero’s journey

Laura Sandefer

February 16, 2018

Every once in a while you meet someone who is truly inspiring. Today I had the privilege of meeting Elizabeth Sullivan who recently moved to Las Cruces. Elizabeth, known as GaGa by her family, is 106. She is a retired math teacher, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and wife for 65 years until widowed.

She has lived through wars, times of peace, the Great Depression, the 60’s, and the technology boom.  I asked her what her secret to longevity was.  She replied, “Oh, I don’t know.  I try to help people.”  Her family says that she lives with extreme gratitude for each day and delights in small luxuries like chocolate milk.  Ms. Sullivan reminded me of the hero’s journey we so often speak of at Acton Academy.  She found her calling as a math teacher and still to this day helps her great-grandsons complete math problems.

When I asked her about her marriage and any advice she might have she simply said, “I guess we just loved each other.”  Then with a twinkle in her eye she said, “You know, you can’t watch your husband and your children at the same time.”  Commenting on when their grandson climbed into the alligator exhibit at a local zoo to get his dropped gum under her husband’s supervision.  Her quick wit and charm are contagious.  I asked her if she had any advice for a student who might struggle with math.  She said, “Any child can learn math – it’s easy.”  We have given her an open invitation to come share her love of math at Acton anytime.

I share this story because it so beautifully exhibits what a life well lived looks like.  Elizabeth, even though she was only one of seven women in the university she attended, worked hard to pursue her calling in math.  She found her calling and she made the world a better place.  May her story inspire your family as you pursue your hero’s journey!

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