March 3, 1926 - December 30, 2016
Norwood, Massachusetts | Age 90
The Honorable George A. Sullivan, Jr. of Norwood, MA, retired Massachusetts District Court judge, passed away peacefully at his home on Dec 30th, surrounded by his loving family. George's life was devoted to his beloved wife Pat, their ten children, their grandchildren, and his community. He made a lifetime of putting the needs of others above his own, actively working to promote social justice and enrich the lives of those around him. He was a loving husband and father, a devoted civil servant, and a man of high principles and devotion to justice.
George was born in 1926 as the first of five children of George and Margaret (Berube) Sullivan of East Walpole. His father was a lifelong employee of Hollingsworth and Voss Paper Mill and his mother was the parish organist at Saint Mary's Church. George attended Walpole High School, where he served as class president, excelling in three sports and later earning induction into the Walpole High Hall of Fame.
After graduating from Walpole High, George attended the University of Notre Dame, where he met and fell in love with the class president of nearby Saint Mary's College, Patricia McGrane. George also served as undergraduate class president at Notre Dame, receiving the College President's Dome Award at graduation for service to the university. George spent time during and after college as a naval officer, serving in both WWII and the Korean Conflict.
While a 17-year old freshman at Notre Dame, George earned the position of starting right tackle and went on to earn four football varsity letters and three national championship rings. After the 1946 national championship game between Notre Dame and Army at Yankee Stadium that resulted in a 0-0 tie, he was named by the Associated Press as Notre Dame's lineman of the game. Army coach Red Blake called him "the smartest player Army has played against during the past three seasons." He was named to the 1948 College All-Star Team and was later drafted and played professional football for one year for the Boston Yanks (predecessor of the New England Patriots). In addition to excelling in football, he was designated as an all-American track and field athlete while at Notre Dame.
Following his time with the Yanks, George became the first athletic director at Stonehill College where he also served as basketball coach and associate professor of mathematics. After returning to Notre Dame to earn a law degree, he began a law practice in Norwood and was elected for two terms in the Massachusetts State Senate where he helped to enact consumer protection laws and worked to expand educational opportunity. In 1965 he was appointed to serve as the presiding judge of the District Court in Stoughton and later as an acting superior court judge. In honor of his public service, the Massachusetts State Legislature dedicated the Brook/Bullard Street bridge that connects Norwood and Walpole in his name in 2008. In 1970, he gained national attention as a man of great conscience when he attended an anti-war rally and later spoke out strongly against America's involvement in the Vietnam War.
George coached his children and grandchildren in many sports, including football, basketball, track, and tennis. His children won numerous championships and held school and regional records. One year, three of his children took first, second, and third place in the shot put in the Massachusetts Catholic Conference Championship.
George and Pat helped start a local chapter of a national organization called Christian Family Movement, a faith-based support network for parents, through which they came to know many of their life-time friends. During his retirement years, George became very active at the Norwood Senior Citizens Center and participated in many theatrical and musical performances there. In his later years while suffering from Alzheimer's, he lived at his home in Norwood and enjoyed winter months in Hawaii lovingly taken care of by his children.
He is survived by his ten children and their spouses: Gerald (Janice), Timothy, Gregory (Marion), Kenneth (Maria, deceased), Michael (Leslie), Daniel (Anne), Brian (Allison), Kathleen, Peggy (Kenneth Gemelli), and David (Mary), as well as his twenty-two grandchildren and his six great-grandchildren.
He is predeceased by his wife Patricia (McGrane) Sullivan, his parents George and Margaret (Berube) Sullivan of East Walpole and his younger sisters Irene Smith (Irving, also deceased) and Evelyn Baldassari (Edward). He is survived by his brother Richard Sullivan (Gertrude) and his sister Carol Betro (Joe).
A Wake service will be held on Wednesday, January 4th from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. in the James H. Delaney & Son Funeral Home, 48 Common Street near Walpole Center. The Funeral Mass will take place on Thursday, January 5th at 10 a.m. at Saint Timothy's Catholic Church, 650 Nichols Street in Norwood, followed by the burial at Highland Cemetery in Norwood. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to The Norwood Scholarship Foundation – P.O. Box 112 Norwood, MA 02062.