Leonie Sullivan Watson, M.D., daughter, sister, wife, mom, grandparent, physician, soldier, and saint, died on October 11, 2023 at the age of 81. A continuous source of seemingly effortless and steadfast good, she will be missed by so many.
Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, she was the third of six children born to John and Leonie Sullivan. She graduated as valedictorian from Ursuline Academy in Springfield, Massachusetts. She received her Bachelors in Science for Annhurst College in Connecticut and went on to be one of four women to graduate from Georgetown Medical School in 1968. It was while serving as Class Treasurer at Georgetown that she met the love of her life, Richard Watson. As Richard says, “we met over cadavers and I gave her my heart.” And as Leonie would say, “Oh, Rich!”
The two graduated from medical school and were married the next week at St. Rose of Lima Church in Aldenville, MA, beginning a fifty-five year marriage, resulting in eight children, eight grandchildren, and so many happy memories.
As Rich served in the U.S. Army, the family lived across the United States, including Ft. Ord, CA; Honolulu, HI; Ft. Knox, KY; Silver Spring, MD; San Francisco, CA; San Antonio, TX; Ft. Belvoir, VA; and Evans, GA. In each place, Leonie was able to practice medicine in family practice. She and Rich continued their work in the pro-life movement in each parish that they joined. And, in each location, Leonie did what she did best, making a safe, supportive, and loving home for each of her children.
Once the family settled down in Mountainside, NJ, Leonie was able to settle in as well, participating in parish life at Our Lady of Lourdes, taking care of her children, including her handicapped son Peter, and also her father-in-law and mother-in-law. It was here where she was also able to start a very successful Natural Family Planning practice. Through this practice, Leonie found great joy in using her medical expertise to help so many families in their journeys to conceive, a true testament to her life’s work of supporting the dignity of all life and to her special affection for little ones.
She spent her remaining years with Rich, Peter, and their daughter Catherine, being visited by her children and grandchildren, reading books, playing piano, listening to French songs, and enjoying life.
She is pre-deceased by her parents, John and Leonie Sullivan; her in-laws, Andrew and Catherine Watson; her brothers-in-law Robert and Drew Watson; her brothers, Fr. John L. Sullivan and Ulric Sullivan; and her son, Mark Thomas Watson. She is survived by her husband, Richard Watson; her brother Thomas Sullivan; sisters, Ann Burke and Mary Pat Donah; and her children: John and his wife Patricia (Jaar), Patrick, Daniel, Peter, Catherine, Michael and his wife Mary (Bakarich), and Cecilia and her husband John. She is also survived by eight grandchildren, as well as many more cousins, nieces, nephews, and extended family members.
She was and will always be an abiding force of steadfast love for all of us, and while we will miss her, her legacy lives on in every life that she touched. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Couple to Couple League https://ccli.org/give/ or the Alzheimers Association (https://www.alz.org/?form=alz_donate).
Leonie’s visitation will be from 2:00-4:00 PM and 6:00-8:00PM Thursday October 19th, at Gray Funeral Home, 318 E. Broad St. Westfield, NJ. Her funeral mass will be celebrated at 10AM Friday October 20, 2023 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Mountainside, NJ. At 10AM, Saturday October 21, 2023, there will another funeral mass for Leonie at St. Jerome Church, Holyoke, MA, followed by interment in Notre Dame Cemetery, South Hadley, MA.
Please go to: www.grayfuneralhomes.com to offer condolences.