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Marianne's Story

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ROCKPORT: Marianne Antonia König Sullivan was born on the 23rd of December 1921 in Paderborn, Germany, to Anna Sunder-Plaßmann and Paul König. She was one of eight children. The family moved shortly after Marianne’s birth to Hannover, where they stayed for many years, despite her father’s untimely passing in 1931. British attacks on Hannover in 1941 razed the family home to the ground, disbanding the König family in various directions. Anna had courageously raised Marianne and her siblings alone, but the War dispersed the family across Germany, and by the end of the War it had left Marianne and her brother Kurt in the disparate territories of Eastern Germany and Czechoslovakia. By the time the war came to an end in 1945, Marianne found herself trapped within the Soviet Occupation Zone, which spanned from the Polish Border in the East and took hold of all of historical Prussia, including of course East Berlin. An incredibly resourceful and spirited person throughout her life, Marianne did not despair at her situation but found a number of creative ways to get through this troubling time, and gain her eventual freedom.

Throughout 1945, Marianne pursued a number of creative and ingenuous ideas to aid in hers and her family’s survival. On a tip-off from her brother Kurt, who had been displaced to Jena in the middle of Germany, she gained a position caring for a blind professor there. As she had an elementary background in nursing, she was able to work as a Red Cross Nurse, and took care of a great number of displaced and injured people in the Soviet Occupation Zone at the time. While these feats of caring and courage enabled her basic survival through this period, she was aware of the impending threat from the Soviet Occupation, and realized that a passage out of East Germany was imperative to her survival. During the Autumn of 1945, she found herself a Soviet Prisoner of War, and was slowly being marched through East Germany and to Siberia, under Soviet control. One night, somewhere between the German town of Jena, and the Polish border, she saw her chance for escape. Seeing that the Soviet guard watching over her group had fallen asleep, she snuck out into night, managing miraculously and with superhuman courage to swim across a river, making her way on foot to the town of Göttingen, hundreds of miles to the West and just outside of the control of the Soviets.

Göttingen at the time was a great crossroads, as it was the center-point between the British, American, and Soviet occupied frontiers. Famous as a university town, it also featured a historic railway line, which in 1945 was being rebuilt in part by the Americans. It was here that she met her emancipator and husband-to-be, Paul Henry Sullivan of the U.S. Army, a railroad engineer from Portland, Maine. Marianne, ever resourceful, had immediately found work as a translator for the British due to her flawless command of the English language, which she had learned as a child. She and Paul fell in love there in Göttingen, and against the backdrop of so much turmoil and upset, endeavored to find a better life for themselves in the United States, a country whose optimism and work ethic Marianne had much admired. In November 1946 on the completion of his Army contract, Paul returned to the States and ensured a safe passage across the Atlantic for his new bride-to-be. A year later in November 1947, Marianne immigrated to America, settling first in Maine and then moving to Rockport, Massachusetts, in 1950 - her happy home for 47 further years.

Paul and Marianne were parents to seven children, Patricia, Paul, Christine, Michael, Patrick, Kathleen, and Mary – three of whom continue to live in Rockport with their families. On August 11, 1981, Paul was killed in an untimely accident at the helm of his train. Tragic though this loss was, his death ensured the safety of all the passengers onboard his train. His utter selflessness and dedication to his work were just as important to him in life and in death.

In 1985, Marianne moved to Colchester, Vt., with her daughter Kathy and grandson, Danny, where they lived happily for the next 18 years. The family returned to their spiritual home of Rockport in 2003, where Marianne spent the last 12 years surrounded by family and lifelong friends.

Becoming an American citizen in 1962 was one of the proudest moments of Marianne’s long and awe-inspiring life. Seeing the Statue of Liberty appearing through the clouds on her arrival into America by boat in 1947 was quoted as being one of her happiest memories. She was staunchly patriotic, and a great defender of the principles of democracy and unity for which her adopted country stands. Marianne always maintained a great sense of respect for those who fought and died for their country, and so it seems only fitting that she should pass over on Veterans’ Day.

When asked recently what her greatest joy in life has been, she of course replied, ‘her children." She is survived by her brother, Franz König of Bad Driburg, Germany, and all seven of her children, Patricia Lucas and husband, Glen of Newington, N.H., Paul Sullivan and wife Judy of Goffstown, N.H., Christine Haines of Portland, Maine, Michael Sullivan and his wife, Annette of Rockport, Patrick Sullivan and his wife, Marie of Shasta Calif., Kathy Crosby of Rockport, and Mary Sullivan of Rockport. Marianne was delighted to be the grandmother of nine grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews throughout the U.S. and Germany.

Marianne will be remembered in a wake on Tuesday night the 17th of November, from 5 to 7 p.m., at Greely Funeral Home, 212 Washington Street, Gloucester. Her funeral will take place at St. Joachim’s Church, Broadway, Rockport on Wednesday the 18th of November at 9:30 a.m. Burial following at Beech Grove Cemetery, Rockport. Immediately following will be a gathering of any and all, family and friends, at Roy Moore's Fish Shack, 21 Dock Square, Rockport, a sentimental spot in Marianne's heart. For online condolences, please visit www.greelyfuneralhome.com.
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