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Pepper-Sullivan remembered as intelligent, artistic

  • Michael D. Tillyer, founding director of Anchor House of Artists, spoke about working with Sara Pepper-Sullivan in the aerly years of the gallery. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/19/2019 11:44:38 PM

HADLEY — Sara Pepper-Sullivan, who died after being struck by a vehicle on Bay Road early on the morning of Sept. 13, is being remembered for her involvement in the local arts scene.

“Sara was, among other things in Northampton, very committed to the arts community,” says her brother, Thomas Pepper, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. “She was more brilliant than I as a writer and as an artist.”

In her younger days, Pepper said his sister was also a good modern dancer.

Pepper-Sullivan completed works for a Northampton gallery that exhibits pieces by artists struggling with mental illness.

“Sara was an incredibly intelligent woman,” said Michael Tillyer, who founded Anchor House of Artists in 1997. “She would be no one’s fool, but she was kind and perceptive.”

A memorial service for Pepper-Sullivan was scheduled at the Florence Civic Center, 90 Park St., at 4 p.m. Friday. Pepper said people are also welcome to send reflections about Pepper-Sullivan to him at

Tillyer said Pepper-Sullivan, who was 58, was active in the formative years of the Pleasant Street gallery, and that he still has one of the pieces she completed in the late 1990s. But she hadn’t done artwork for Anchor House for many years.

Beginning in 1991, Pepper-Sullivan was a member of Starpoint Club, a group for consumers of mental health services that is now known as the Star Light Center, in Florence. Because it is a Department of Mental Health site, no one there was authorized to talk about Pepper-Sullivan.

Pepper said he appreciates the care his sister received through ServiceNet.

“Thank you to all those who knew her and loved her and took care of her,” Pepper said.

Pepper-Sullivan was the daughter of the late Anita and Max Pepper, Smith and Amherst college graduates who helped found the Hampshire-Franklin Health Care Coalition.

Pepper-Sullivan’s husband, Mark, died in 1994, according to a newspaper article at the time.

People are welcome to send contributions in her memory to the Rosenberg Fund for Children, 116 Pleasant St., Suite 348, Easthampton, 01027.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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