Mary Francis Beaver, age 81, of Wells, passed away Sunday afternoon, March 14, 2021 at home surrounded by family. She was born December 24, 1939 in Escanaba, the daughter of Arthur and Dorothy (Van Horn) Olson.
Mary graduated from Escanaba High School and attended Northern Michigan University majoring in home economics with an art minor. In 1963, she married W. Gordon Sullivan and together they owned The Photo Art Shop with locations on Ludington Street, the Delta Plaza Mall, and Washington Street in Marquette. The couple also operated a state-of-the-art photo developing lab with over 200 pickup stations located across the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin. The couple had five children prior to Gordon’s death in 1974.
In 1977, she married Russell D. Beaver and together they managed The Photo Art Shop before selling the business. They later lived in Tennessee and Minnesota before moving back to the area. The couple had two children.
Mary was active in the Escanaba business community for decades. She worked various retail positions and enjoyed helping customers. In the Ludington Center, she was a clerk at the used bookstore, a seamstress at the alteration shop, a salesperson at the furniture store. She was an avid reader, especially of science fiction and fantasy novels.
Mary was employed for several years at Noc Bay Trading Company where she picked up a new creative endeavor - beading. She patterned original, hand-made beaded jewelry, wove dreamcatchers, taught beading classes and opened up her own shop “Just Bead It.” Whether making jewelry, crocheting hot pads, washcloths or scrubbies, spending time at her sewing machine or holding a fishing pole, Mary’s hands were always busy. Her passion in retirement was selling her goods at UP craft shows. She and Russ set up many booths over the years and enjoyed friendships made with other vendors on the circuit. Mary also enjoyed camping, especially when her family was along.
She is survived by her husband, Russell Beaver; and her children, Elise McCommons (James) of Marquette, Jeff Sullivan (Aly) of Escanaba, Cheryl Sullivan of Menominee, Michael Sullivan of Escanaba, Gary Sullivan (Kathy) of Escanaba, R.J. Beaver (Jamie) of Escanaba, Joshua (Raine) Beaver of Chatham, and Wendy (John) Meuller of Appleton; grandchildren, Kelly McCommons of Colorado Springs, Patrick and Colin McCommons of Marquette, Mariah and Ella Sullivan of Escanaba, Jessica Kerwin of Oconto, Angela Willie of Marinette, Ryleigh Sullivan of Menominee, Brayden and Carly Sullivan of Escanaba, Morgan Sullivan of Escanaba, Kyle, Katelyn, Jenaya and Jayla Beaver of Escanaba, and Liam Beaver of Escanaba; and great grandchildren, Gavin and Gracelyn Kerwin, Ramsey and Isabel Willie. Mary also is survived by two sisters, Jeanne Fritz (James) of Escanaba and Birgit Ruotsola (James) of Green Bay; as well as several nieces and nephews.
Mary was preceded in death by her parents; husband, W. Gordon Sullivan; brother, Bill Olson; and sister Margit Olson.
The family is planning an interment ceremony this summer at Lakeview Cemetery. Memorials may be directed to LHC Hospice Foundation, c/o UPHS Hospice, 901 South Lincoln Road, Suite #2, Escanaba MI 49829.