Longtime Affton resident Lorraine Sullivan, who has spent decades volunteering in the community, is being honored as the Affton Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year.

Sullivan, 81, will be honored at the Affton Chamber of Commerce's Annual Auction and Awards Dinner Gala on Saturday, Jan. 23, at Andre's South Banquet Center.

Originally transplants from Massachusetts, she and her late husband, Richard, moved to Affton nearly 50 years ago and never left.

"We loved it so much we just stayed here and it became our home," Sullivan said, noting she still lives in the same house they moved into five decades ago.

The couple had been married for more than 60 years when Richard died in December. They enjoyed raising their two children, Mark and Kathleen, in the Affton community, and Sullivan became a staple at school, church and community events.

"It's a small community and a lovely community, and I became active in my church and children's schools," she said.

She was a pillar of support as a member and then vice president of the Mesnier Mother's Club for Mesnier Elementary School. She also served as a Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader for many years, and she never missed the Affton Community Days parade and festival. She especially enjoyed volunteering at the Seven Holy Founders Parish Picnic.

"I worked it for over 40 years – I loved it," she said, noting the past year was the first time she couldn't work it due to a health issue.

In addition to being active in the community, she has always been active in the literal sense. An avid walker and proponent of physical fitness, she ran into neighbors, friends and community members during her daily walks to Grasso Plaza.

When her children got older, Sullivan worked locally for Sunmark Candy Corporation in market research, and later worked as the office manager at Kirby Vacuum Company for 13 years.

Fiercely committed to shopping and buying local – everything from Merx Flooring to Dairy Queen to Hoffmeister Bakery – she always sought to support Affton first, and encouraged others to do so as well.

"She threw herself into this community, embraced it and never let go," said Lisa Rackley, executive director of the Affton Chamber of Commerce. "She has touched the lives of her family, neighbors and friends in her community. From her daily walks to selling brats at the Seven Holy Founders Picnic, if you know Affton, you know Lorraine."

Sullivan said she's honored and humbled to receive the award, and the timing is especially meaningful to her.

"It's a very tough time (since losing my husband), but there's light to every tunnel," she said. "I'm amazed that I was chosen, and I feel very proud that it's been bestowed upon me."

In addition to volunteering in the community, Sullivan loves spending time with her two grandchildren, Mary Grace and Clare Elizabeth.

Sullivan and several other community members will be recognized at the chamber's Annual Auction and Awards Dinner Gala on Jan. 23. The evening will include silent and live auctions, dinner and the awards ceremony. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 each; tables of eight or 10 are available.

More Affton Chamber Award Winners

First Responder of the Year

Mark Bryant, Affton Fire Protection District

Paul Gordon, St. Louis County Police-Affton Southwest Precinct

Exceptional Educators Award

Amy Rose, Affton Anna Barton, Bayless Shannon Smyka, Holy Cross

Scott Denoyer, Lutheran South Karen Czaicki, Lindbergh 

Lisa Carnehl, Salem Lutheran

Harold O. Kessler Beautification Awards

Commercial Renovation — Clarkson Eyecare Dairy Queen Petsway

Residential Renovation — Philip and Jacquelynn Capriano