Friends recall Sullivan’s love for city, job

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Brookhaven residents were shocked and saddened by the earlyWednesday death of former Mayor Doug Sullivan, who succumbed to aheart attack in his vehicle as he was traveling Highway 51 on hisway to work.

Lincoln County Coroner Clay McMorris said Sullivan was able toget his van off the road on Highway 51 South between Pine Streetand Natchez Avenue around 6:42 a.m. He was taken to King’sDaughters Medical Center, where he passed away at the age of69.

Sullivan was mayor of Brookhaven from 1993-1997. Sullivan mostrecently was serving as the state office director for U.S. Sen.Thad Cochran, a post he had held since March of 2001.

Mayor Bob Massengill recalled being on the school board whenSullivan was hired as head Brookhaven High School football coach in1970. Also, he said the Massengills and Sullivans were neighborsfor 15 years before the Sullivans moved to Kraner Lane.

“He was one of the kindest, dearest men I’ve ever known,” saidMassengill. “He loved this community and he loved doing whatever hecould to help this community.”

Sen. Thad Cochran said he was incredibly grieved by the news ofSullivan’s death.

“I’m deeply saddened by the death of Doug Sullivan. He was agood friend and an important member of my staff,” he said. “He hada strong sense of duty and worked hard to see that our needs inMississippi were addressed by the federal government. I extend mysincerest condolences to his children and to his wife, Karen.”

Massengill also said Sullivan loved working for Cochran.

“He said he had the best job and best boss,” Massengill said.”He made that comment to me numerous times.”

State Field Representative Chris Richardson, who worked withSullivan in Cochran’s Jackson office, said he was very upset tolearn the news of Sullivan’s death.

“He was a fine guy, just a wonderful Christian man and it was anhonor to work for him and with him,” said Richardson. “He alwaysput the people of Mississippi first. It was a high honor to workwith Doug Sullivan.”

Police Chief Pap Henderson said he remembers Sullivan as a manwho was dedicated to the city, its residents and employees.

“The term he was in office, he was a great man and we workedwell together. He was very supportive of the police department, andvery concerned about the welfare of the citizens of Brookhaven andLincoln County,” said Henderson. “He was an outstanding mayor andremained an outstanding citizen to the city of Brookhaven.”

McMorris, who has known Sullivan for years, said not only was hea great leader, but a good man as well.

“I can say he was a great community leader, because he was, andthis is just so sad for this family,” said McMorris. “I’ve knownDoug for a long time, and I thought he was a great guy. He was agreat guy and a good friend.”

Adam Telle, Cochran’s deputy press secretary, said the news washeartbreaking for the office for which Sullivan had worked sodiligently.

“Obviously we all just found out about it, and of course Sen.Cochran and Doug are close friends. This is a hard day for all ofus,” said Telle.

Sullivan ran for Congress in 1998, carrying Wesson and LincolnCounty in the final numbers.

“It was one of the most interesting experiences I’ve ever had,”Sullivan said of the campaign in an interview with The DAILY LEADERin 2004.

Leadership positions came naturally to Sullivan, who was thepresident of his class at Delta State his sophomore, junior, andsenior years. He began a career in education and coaching atGrenada High School, and was given his first official head coachingjob at Noxapater in 1960. From 1963-1970, he coached at Eupora HighSchool, and it was in 1970 that he and his wife Karen came toBrookhaven with their four children, Paige, Penny, Susan, andJohn.

Sullivan also served in the Mississippi Army National Guard formore than 34 years. He was the commander of the Brookhavendetachment of the 155th Infantry Battalion in the early 1970s andhas served in Louisville, Kosciusko and at the guard’s headquartersin Jackson. He retired as a colonel.

He and his wife Karen attended a Veterans Day Program at theWhite House last year for an informal tour and breakfast. Hereceived a signed proclamation from the president in tribute to hisyears of military service.

Sullivan is survived by his wife and four children, Paige Case,of Meridian; Penny Martin, of Olive Branch; Susan Sullivan, ofBirmingham, Ala.; and John Sullivan, of Jackson.

Funeral arrangements for Sullivan, under the direction ofRiverwood Family Funeral Service, were incomplete at presstime.