WILLIAMSBURG — William A. “Bill” Sullivan Jr., 81, loving husband, father, grandfather and brother, passed away Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, at his home.
Bill was born Aug. 8, 1939, in Warren, Ohio, to William A. Sullivan Sr. and Maude (Cavender) Sullivan. After graduating from Warren G. Harding High School, Bill attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where he was the debate champion and won the International Cambridge Debate in 1959 as a sophomore. He graduated with a B.A. Degree in Philosophy in 1961 and matriculated Columbia University Law School in New York that fall on a full scholarship.
Upon graduation from Columbia in 1964, Bill returned to Warren, where he was determined to make a difference in his community. He began his career as an attorney with the Law Firm of Evans, Gentithes and Meermans. During that time, he ran for and won a seat on the city council, where he served from 1965 until 1967. He was named Warren’s Young Man of the Year in 1966. In 1967, at the age of 28, he ran a lively campaign for Mayor of Warren.
Bill was deputy director of the Mahoning Valley Council of Governments and later founder and executive director of the Western Reserve Economic Development Agency (WREDA). He also brought community leaders together in founding the Steel Communities Coalition in 1977. The coalition’s mission was to revive the steel industry in Northeastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.
From the time he was a teenager, Bill was always passionate about politics and each American’s impact on our government. He worked on many campaigns, including Ronald Reagan’s Ohio campaign leading to Reagan’s election as president in 1980. Bill took then-candidate Reagan on a tour of the closed Youngstown Sheet and Tube mill during Reagan’s visit to Ohio, impressing on the candidate the economic catastrophe the closure caused. In the spring of 1981, Bill was asked to join the Reagan Administration as chief enforcement officer of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, which led to the family’s move to Washington, D.C. Following his time in government service, Bill consulted on a variety of projects with clients both domestic and international.
Bill was known for his quick wit and wonderful sense of humor. He loved a good debate and never held a person’s opposing position against them. He read more books than are held in an average library and never stopped learning and sharing the things he learned with others. Most important, he was kind to everyone whose path he crossed and his genuine interest in others meant he never met a stranger. He loved lively conversation, Ohio State football, Cleveland Indians baseball, both cooking and eating delicious food. He could often be found looking through cookbooks for a new interesting recipe or an old favorite.
He loved all things Irish and was fiercely proud of his Irish heritage, passing that love on to his children. Traveling to Ireland gave him joy, and he made lifelong friends there. He loved traditional Irish music and listened to it year-round. Bill and Anne hosted wonderful parties throughout their marriage, including their incredible Saint Patrick’s Day and pub parties that were held throughout the years.
Anyone who knew Bill knew he loved his family more than he loved life itself. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for them.
Bill leaves behind his beloved wife of 53 years, Anne (McMahon); and three children, Bill (Nancy) Sullivan III of Williamsburg, Kate (Dave) Richards of Weare, New Hampshire, and Sean Sullivan of Washington, D.C. He leaves two beloved grandchildren, Liam Patrick Sullivan and Emily Elizabeth Sullivan of Williamsburg; favorite sister, Dorothy Ann (Bill) Plasky of Cortland, Ohio; and many nieces, nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews. Bill also leaves two step-grandchildren, their spouses and several step-great-grandchildren, with whom he shared a special bond and loved to visit with whenever he was in New Hampshire.
Services will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, Oct. 23, at Bruton Parish Episcopal Church, Williamsburg, where Bill was a parishioner.
There will be a gathering in Bill’s honor in Ohio in spring 2021.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Cancer Patient Support Services at the Cleveland Clinic Philanthropy Institute, P.O. Box 931517, Cleveland, OH 44193-1655.
“May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”
Share online condolences with the family at Nelsen Funeral Home.