Joan Sullivan Hits 95 Years Young

Written by Shari Sullivan

Shari part of local community news since she moved back to the central coast in 1998. Her family connection to the central coast go back to the 1940s when her grandparents moved to Shell Beach and owned O'Connor Buick in downtown SLO. She is also an artist, herbalist, yoga teacher and certified health coach, and with more than a decade of marketing experience.

November 6, 2020

Our house on 10th street. Nothing on either side

Joan Sullivan was born November 5, 1925 in Jersey City, New Jersey. In 1970, she made her way to Los Osos.

As you may know, or have figured out, Joan Sullivan is my mother, and she’s the reason I’m here in Los Osos.

I still today thank her for that move. She originally came for a location painting class and never looked back. She’s raised three great kids (ok, two great kids and me), written several books on the area covering Baywood, Los Osos, the California Missions, Hearst Castle and local ranch’s history, been part of the local art scene, and been an important part of local newspapers.

My mom was a big help in starting the very first “Bay News”. Her joke was she worked for her son, but he didn’t pay very well, and mine was “she was the only one that knew how to type and spell.” At 95, she still contributes a column (see “Coffee with Joan”).

I have always said that I was raised by strong women. Between my mom, two sisters and my wife, I am in constant awe of what these women accomplish and what they teach me every day. I see it in my daughter too. Never get in their way, not only will they leave you in the dust, but I will be standing behind them watching their backs as they have watched over me.

Happy birthday mom. I am so proud to be your son.

“The family that stays together…gives love and praise together (and we all do) for one terrific lady and constant inspiration to us all …my sister Joan. I’ve played a lot of parts in my showbiz career over the years all over the world, but the one that has been the most rewarding is being Joan’s brother. More than your extraordinary talent as an artist, you have created a beautiful family that loves you as I do.”
Jack Betts,
Joan’s brother. Jack calls every night and they talk about their days and check on each other.

”I have treasured our adventures driving down country backroads, using your book Rounding Up the Ranches as a guide, in search of local ranches and barns. Never knowing what we will find or who we will meet, but confident in your knowledge of the history of the area and the people to guide us through. And, of course, our mutual love and appreciation for rusted old farm equipment abandoned by the side of the road or in a field overgrown with vegetation, where you always indulge me taking as many photos as I want. Thank you, it has been and will continue to be such a joy to share this experience with you. I look forward to many more to come. With love and appreciation for who you are and what you have given me.”
-Gail, Joan’s daughter

”Happy 95th Birthday to my dear, dear friend Joan Sullivan! We have spent so many happy hours together at our Monday morning coffees talking over County history and specifically Los Osos history, we could have written a book about that. Joan’s many history books are how we met as I was writing one on Los Osos and wanted to consult with our acknowledged town historian. I guess it was inevitable that two history nuts would be simpatico. If I retain one tenth of Joan’s extraordinary knowledge gracefully given over these five years, I will be grateful. Her stories never end about this place. Her artwork, illustrating our county over many years, capturing ranches with now gone barns and homes, is tantalizing and beautiful!”
Lynette Tornatzky

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