Cover photo for Gladys Sullivan Mahoney's Obituary
Gladys Sullivan Mahoney Profile Photo

Gladys Sullivan Mahoney

Gladys Sullivan Mahoney died peacefully on Thursday, April 6, 2023, after a brief illness. She was 74.  Gladys was born on July 30, 1948, in Phoenix, Arizona. She was the second of nine children born to prominent civil rights attorney – and U.S. Ambassador to Ghana in the Kennedy Administration – William Patrick Mahoney, Jr., and his illustrious wife, Alice Doyle Mahoney. The Mahoney’s were instrumental in many civil rights causes of their day, including leading the fight to desegregate Arizona schools before Brown v. Board of Education; the struggle for worker’s rights including the United Farmworkers; and especially Navajo and indigenous rights.

Deeply influenced by her family’s activism and armed with an abiding love of literature and books, Gladys attended the Marymount International School in Rome in the early 1960s. An accomplished cellist, she then attended Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles for two years as a music major. She transferred to UCLA and received a Bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in History, followed by a Masters in Library Science from USC.

After several years as a novitiate in the Carmelite Monastery of Santa Clara, she came home to Phoenix, thence embarking on her other great passion, as a librarian of 35 years with the City of Phoenix Central Library. Imbued with a lifelong fascination with rare books and arcane printing methods, Gladys helped to establish and curate the nationally renowned Rare Book Room at Burton Barr and was a founding member of the Javelina Press. She was deeply committed to her faith and her community at St. Mary’s Basilica.

An uncommonly private person, Gladys was, very much like her books, rare and erudite and precious. Adored by her many siblings, nieces, nephews, friends and faith community, Gladys will be so deeply and forever missed.

Services will be at St. Mary’s Basilica, 231 N 3rd Street, Phoenix, on Thursday, April 13, 2023. Visitation will begin at 8:30AM, Rosary at 9:30AM, and Mass to be held at 10:00AM. Interment will follow at St. Francis Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to St. Mary’s Food Bank and Southern Poverty Law Center. Condolences may be expressed at
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