Those close to her say she was a blithe spirit, a spicy soul who spent her free time "hanging out in what she called 'my shack' with her hippie friends," recalls Andy Howell, owner of Avenue 805, the Fan restaurant where Sullivan-Hugate worked as chef. She cooked around town for years, he says, at such places as the defunct Café Communique and the historic Linden Row Inn, before taking a job as chef at the White Oak semiconductor plant. But the corporate life didn't suit her. So she left it, winding up at Avenue 805 two years later, refreshed and without a care in the world or a pair of close-toed shoes.
Sullivan-Hugate died a newlywed. She had just married her sweetheart, Terry Allen Hugate, on May 1. "She hated organized religion," Howell says. Her pickup truck bore a broken back window and a bumper sticker that read: "Jerry Falwell can suck my little pinky winky."
So her wedding took place outdoors at her Charles City home, a refuge of cattail and thrush nestled on the banks of the Chickahominy River. In place of church pews or chairs, guests alighted from bales of hay to celebrate and skip around a Maypole she made.
"Her husband did require that she wear a white dress," Howell muses. "But she didn't wear shoes."
Sullivan-Hugate was known for her stories unadulterated, adventuresome and free. She shared them indiscriminately. The tales and the truths accompanied her to unknown places that, like her friends, quickly enveloped her. She crossed the country a half-dozen times or more, stopping for a while to call an Oregon commune home.
But, in time, her heart led her back to Richmond. Her soul settled down. She moved to the country, where her dogs Maddie, Sophie and Oaky roamed boundless, the way she thought all animals and humans must. She took to people and, curiously, purses. Old lunch boxes and the tackiest vessels you can imagine constituted a collection that would kindly be called quirky. She absorbed life like a scholar on sabbatical. "She went to eight different colleges," Howell fondly recalls, "and never graduated from one." Brandon Walters
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