Clarion Ann Benner Sullivan, a longtime Vineyard resident, died peacefully on Sunday, May 1. She was surrounded by all “the boys” as well as her brother Gerald Benner and her sister Kathy (Thomas) Berninger in her own home in Oak Bluffs. She died as she had lived, with dignity and grace.

Clarion was born on May 7, 1950 in Damariscotta, Me. to the late Alphra Rose Morton and Edward Eugene Benner. She was the oldest of 11 children.

She was an accomplished gardener and enjoyed working at various flower shows and orchid competitions throughout Massachusetts. She was talented in so many ways. Clare could wallpaper your kitchen, soothe your crying baby and fertilize your hydrangeas without breaking a sweat. She could whip up a gourmet meal out of nothing at all. Her dry humor and wit were legendary. Clare allowed people to be who they were. She was encouraging, accepting, and made others laugh, often at themselves. She was never too busy to help, listen, comfort or forgive. Her arms were open unconditionally; she loved her family despite their failings and they are all the better for it. Her family is quite certain that Clare’s smiling face can be found as the definition of wife, mother, sister, friend, and guardian angel.

She was most recently predeceased by her husband Kenneth (Sully) Sullivan, her brother Edward, and her sister Georgia.

Clare leaves her children and grandchildren: Jason Cray, his wife Robin, and their children Ryan, Emily , Kylie and Cole; Lewis Cameron, his wife Michelle, and their children Michella, Haley and Samantha; Virgil Cray Sr. and his children Virgil Jr., Jenae and Lewis; Douglas Cray and his children Jason and Anjelika; Frank Cray, his wife Stephania and their children Frank Jr. and Maya Rose; Russell Michael Nisbet, his wife Seana, and their children Sean and Megan; and her loving stepsons, Patrick Strong and Joseph Sullivan, his wife Kerri, and their child Kenzie Jo.

A memorial gathering to celebrate her life will take place at the VFW in Oak Bluffs on Saturday, May 7 at 2 p.m. A graveside service will be held on Saturday, May 14 at 1 p.m. at the Agawam Cemetery on Charge Pond Road in Wareham.

Donations in Clare’s memory may be made to the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1829, Edgartown, MA 02539 or your local animal shelter. Clare and Sully’s dogs Ruby and Baby will be cared for by Jason and Robin, and their cats Max and Jax will be cared for by Michael and Seana.

Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs. An online guestbook is available at