Yorktown community mourns loss of teacher 'who always made you happy'

July 12, 2011 at 2:12 a.m.

She was known as Yorktown's version of Paula Deen - the white, voluminous-haired, blue-eyed Food Network star.

Judy Sullivan, 65, was killed in a two-vehicle wreck Sunday afternoon in Nursery at about the intersection of U.S. Highway 87 and Farm-to-Market Road 447. Her husband, David Sullivan, 67, is listed in critical condition at Brooke Army Medical Center Tuesday afternoon.

The late Sullivan's memory lives on through the students she taught.

A Southern accent, bubbly personality and never-ending smile, much like Paula Deen, made her a well-recognized Yorktown resident, said Laura Billings, the mother of Danielle Parella, a sophomore at Yorktown High School who was taught by Sullivan in fifth grade.

"All the kids loved her," Billings said. "All of our teachers are very loving and compassionate teachers, and when one is lost, it's this huge thing."

Sullivan retired last year from the Yorktown school district but continued helping her students - those who had trouble with reading and comprehension.

Danielle was one of those, dealing with severe dyslexia.

On Tuesday, Danielle was still having trouble dealing with the loss.

"There was nothing bad you could ever say about Mrs. Sullivan," Danielle said, her voice breaking. "She always made you happy. It wasn't possible to be unhappy."

Sullivan helped the 15-year-old inside and outside the classroom. Her tutoring and inspiration has helped Danielle pass the writing and comprehension part of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skill test each year.

Danielle, who hopes to go into culinary school, was always told by Sullivan that she could not wait to see her one day on the Food Network.

"She really inspired me to do a lot of things," Danielle said. "If I could tell everyone in the world how amazing she was, I would."

That impact is the reason Sullivan never let go of teaching, said Tara Fagan, one of Sullivan's daughters.

"She taught us how to be good people and how to be good moms," Fagan said.

Sullivan did so much and expected nothing in return, her daughter said.

The wreck is the second deadly wreck at the intersection in the past year, said Randy Bena, area engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation.

Other wrecks have happened in the intersection area, but numbers were not immediately available.

"There is a lot of traffic in and out of the business, which causes concern," Bena said about the gas station there.

About 3,000 cars travel off the farm road onto U.S. 87 every day, Bena said.

The high volume, coupled with the gas station, the community of Nursery and the speed limit raises concern.

"We are also looking at the possibility of an overpass project and whether or not it would be feasible or fundable," Bena said.

But for now, the Yorktown community and Sullivan's family are left with happy, but tear-wrenching memories.

"She always put others ahead of herself," Fagan said.



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