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Viola (Thurston) Sullen


Viola (Thurston) Sullen was born on May 17, 1892 in Bridgeport near Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland County, PA, the daughter of Charles and Emma (Minerd) Thurston.

On Jan. 26, 1916, at the age of 23, Viola married 33-year-old Frank Sullen (1882-1958), an immigrant from Austria who came to the United States in 1900 when he was 17. The identity of his parents is not known. 

Viola and Frank were about a decade apart in age. He was tall and stout, with blue eyes and brown hair. He had been married and divorced previously and brought a son to the marriage, Frank Sullen Jr.

The pair bore a daughter, Blanche " June" Sullen.

In 1916, at the birth of their daughter, the Sullens lived at Hecla. They soonafter relocated to Youngwood, Westmoreland County, PA, where they spent the rest of their lives. They made their home at 103 East Depot Street. 

Frank initially worked circa 1918 as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Youngwood. Later, he was employed for years as a special police officer of the Pennsylvania Railroad. In July 1935, he made news in the Connellsville Daily Courier when he arrested eight boys from Everson for malicious mischief to railroad property. They allegedly had thrown stones and large buckets from the Everson Bridge onto the railroad track below, damaging a caboose and striking a railroad engineer.

In September 1931, Viola, Frank and June attended a 25th wedding anniversary reception for Viola's brother Alvin in Mount Pleasant. 

Viola began to suffer from cancer of the esophagus and trachea in about 1942. She endured the illness for three years but passed away at the age of 53 at Frick Memorial Hospital on June 21, 1945, following a stay of more than a month. She was laid to rest at the Presbyterian Middle Church Cemetery near Mount Pleasant.

Frank survived his wife by 13 years. He married again to Betty Coughenour ( ? - ? ). They remained in the Sullen home on Depot Street. 

For the final decade of his life, Frank was afflicted with hardening of the arteries. In mid-July 1958, he began to bleed from the esophagus and he was admitted to Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg. Death came within 36 hours, on July 14, 1958, when he was age 75. His remains were placed beside his wife's in eternal repose. At death, reported the Connellsville Daily Courier, he also was survived by a son Frank Sullen Jr. of Pittsburgh.


~ Daughter Blanche "June" Sullen ~

Daughter Blanche "June" Sullen (1916-2015) was born in June 1916 at Frick Memorial Hospital in Mount Pleasant. News of her birth was published in the Connellsville Daily Courier.

She apparently never married. June spent her working career as a stenographer with Robertshaw Controls in Youngwood, and retired from the company. She once was referred to as "a beloved friend to many."


Robertshaw Controls in Youngwood


June relocated during the 1950s to Richmond, VA. She spent the remaining 60 years of her life there, and toward the end resided in Westminster Canterbury.

She died there on July 8, 2015, at the age of 89."Following June's wishes, there will be no memorial service" reported the Richmond Times Dispatch. Her "ashes will be laid to rest with her parents in Pennsylvania." Her final resting place was Presbyterian Middle Church Cemetery near Mount Pleasant.


Copyright 2001, 2008, 2016, 2018 Mark A. Miner