General News · 23rd March 2018
Heroic figures have walked among us
How often does one get to meet their heroes? Wise mentors who teach by example? Principled souls who climb from harsh adversity and succeed by dint of natural ability and grit? Rare personalities who exemplify courage by showing, as Hemingway wrote, “grace under pressure”? Mostly, we only read about or admire-from-afar these exceptional and gifted persons.
I met mine. And after a lifetime of being my hero, a flight of ravens lifted him away on the soft spring night of 22 March 2018.
Sully (Clarence) Sullivan showed his qualities to all he touched: quietly, graciously, with unwavering ethics based on a core of respect and politeness from days-gone-by. In these dark times of #Me Too, and isolationism, Sully kept his light of warmth and inclusiveness, and integrity - without even consciously knowing he was teaching these values to all around him– as he did all his life.
And, wow, was that a life well-lived! From a rough start in northern Saskatchewan, through the residential school system (“Wasn’t all bad…permanently cured me of religion!”), and into the RCAF, Sully mastered the mechanical intricacies of F86 Sabre jet fighters and early helicopters. He couldn’t watch the opening scene of M*A*S*H without lamenting “those poor Bell 47’s straining at altitude and load”. His adventurous skill lead him into a career with the Geological Survey of Canada, followed by rising through Associated Helicopters to become Chief Engineer. He saw a Canadian Arctic that most only read and dream about. As a young boy listening to his tales of caribou herds stretching to the horizon, of Inuit tracking polar bears in dark blizzards, of angry Barren Ground Grizzlies…I was hooked…and parlayed his love of adventure and learning into a career of science and conservation, wilderness first-aid, rescue, and back-country adventures of my own. Our mutual pride and respect for each other was the obvious defining aura of us as a pair.
Riding his adventurous coat tails was his bride of 63 years, Marg, and his two children, Sharon (McNabb) and Michael (me). How many children are so impossibly lucky to be asked if they want to go with Daddy to work on a Saturday to “simulate a high-altitude engine failure and auto-rotate into a snowy swamp?”
From Paddockwood SK (born 1927) to Flin Flon, to central Alberta, and Cortes Island, BC, with stops in Amazonian jungles to high seas, the memories and learning and teaching and adventures never stopped. A typical tale just this past St. Paddy’s Day ended with “well, after that, it was almost a week of repairs before we could fly off that Greenland ice”.
The last of 5 Sullivan boys – a curling team that Flin Flon will not soon forget! - Sully leaves a legacy of wonderful nieces, nephews, second-cousins, and other partial-quotient DNA relatives across North America. Others were fully welcomed as family-by-choice, including the wonderful family he collected at Evergreen Senior Home in Campbell River. All hold full rights to the joys of re-telling Sully’s tales of high-adventure and continuing his lessons of wisdom and tolerance. Slainte, fear maithe!
Your son, Michael
Sully salvaging crashed military helicopter in Amazon jungle near Guyana/Suriname border.
Comment by Arlene (nee: Hook) Shandro on 31st March 2018
with great admiration and love
a remarkable man
who made a difference to many.
Sincere and heartfelt condolences to you and your family Michael.
Moe and Arlene
Good to have know you Sully.
Comment by Chris Good on 25th March 2018
Enjoy the next lap.
Comment by Pat Sullivan on 24th March 2018
A perfect tribute, Mike. Our thoughts are with you.
Comment by Joy shipway on 24th March 2018
About 30 years ago a small group of us wished to start a emergency service . With a few donations and volunteers it got started.Sully after one of our meetings went ahead on his own purchased a vehicle ,fixed it up ,maintained it and was the main driver.Eventually he claimed we needed a better vehicle to assure getting in and out of muddy driveways and roads that were not yet paved.He then went and got the second ambulance to replace the other one.The rest is history. A humble hero.
From a headstone in Ireland
Comment by Doone Kelly on 24th March 2018
" Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal "
Raise a glass, dance a jig to this very fine man, a true friend.
Life is never
After this one
Of being roses
Of being trees.
( By Alice Walker.)
Comment by Grace Martin on 24th March 2018
Your tributes to both your parents move me deeply. May you continue to live beautifully out of the wound of this loss, of whatever wounds life gifts you with. So you honour these beautiful, particular lives out of which yours sprang. So the river continues to flow. Thank you, Michael. Thank you so much.
Comment by Carole and Grant on 24th March 2018
What a perfect "send off" Micheal. We were privileged to have known your Mom and Dad. There is a hole in the Cortes community. Condolences to you and your family.