Nina Sullivan

Date of Birth

October 18th, 1915

Date of Death

September 5th, 2019

Memorial Meeting

Tacoma Friends Meeting


Nina Ingrid Lindstrom was born in Sweden on October 18, 1915, the third of four children. She died in her home on Vashon Island September 5, 2019 at almost 104 years old. Many remember a joyous celebration of her 100th birthday at the Vashon Island Books Building with a huge number of friends and family who loved and admired her. 

When she was 5, her family moved to Njoro, Kenya where her family operated a large farm about 100 miles from Nairobi. She went to boarding school in Kenya. Her first year in school she reported she was an outcast because she spoke only Swedish. She quickly learned English, and later, Swahili. She attended Art School in Paris until the start of World War II when she moved to England. There she worked as a Scandinavian translator for the BBC. So, add French, Norwegian and Danish to her language skills! During that time, she met John Sullivan and they were married October 8, 1946. After the war, they lived in Paris while John worked for the Federation of World Trade Unions, then moved to the U.S. in 1950. They lived briefly in Michigan and then in Burlington, Vermont. Their sons, John and Donal, were born there in 1953 and 1954, respectively. They remember their parents speaking in French when they did not want their boys to understand. 

In 1962 the family moved to Cambridge, MA where John worked as Executive Secretary of the New England Regional Office of the American Friends Service Committee. In 1965, they moved to Seattle where John was Executive Secretary of the Pacific Northwest Region of AFSC. Nina worked with Aki Kurose in the Head Start program and became a member of University Meeting, September 8, 1967. 

The Sullivans moved to Philadelphia in 1969, where they lived in Mount Airy and transferred their memberships to Germantown Meeting. John was Associate Executive Secretary for Information Services at AFSC from 1969 - 1981 while Nina worked for Friends Journal in circulation and advertising. At that time, the subscription list for the Journal was on a rolodex, reportedly the size of a truck tire. 

In 1982, the Sullivans retired and moved to Vashon. Nina transferred her membership back to UFM, June 10, 1983 and became a beloved, active member of the Vashon Worship Group. John died in 1999. 

Nina was an artist, painting in a variety of media and weaving. She particularly did watercolors and pastels. Her loom had a place of honor in the living room, where there was good light. She had a strong social network on Vashon: the water walkers at the athletic club, her breakfast group and the folks with whom she volunteered at Granny's Attic, the non- profit second-hand store that supports the Vashon Health Center. She was reported to enjoy listening to the gossip and politics. She was a deeply valued, active member of the broader community as well as the Quaker one. 

Nina was also a tennis fan. One did not visit her during Wimbledon. She had a wonderful laugh and sense of humor. When she became a U.S. citizen on April 6, 1998, she is reported to have laughed when they asked if she was willing to bear arms, being 82 at the time. 

Nina traveled extensively, well into her 90's. She visited her siblings, who lived in Kenya, South Africa and London as well as her 3 nieces in London. In her later years, her niece Ingrid and husband accompanied her to Italy, France, Kenya and South Africa. 

In May, after her 100th birthday the previous October, she and son John went on a half-day rafting trip on the Colorado River, arranged by friends in Moab. It was an experience that was reportedly on her "bucket list". Apparently she reported to be "slightly disappointed" that the raft's guide steered clear of rapids! 

In an interview with the Moab newspaper she noted how much technology had changed in her lifetime. She went from having no telephone as a child in Kenya, to the early days of television when in Vermont, to receiving a Kindle for her 100th birthday, which she loved for reading. 

Her life was celebrated in a well-attended and joyous gathering on Vashon Island on October 18, 2019, which would have been the day of her 104th birthday. A Memorial Meeting for Worship at University Meeting was held on November 24, 2019. She was a deeply loved woman who lived a remarkable life.