OBITUARY

Thomas James Sullivan

October 20, 1931April 6, 2019
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Thomas James Sullivan went to be with the Lord on Saturday, April 6, 2019 in Sugar Land, Texas. He battled Alzheimer’s Disease the last 10 years of his life, and recently the Alzheimer’s was winning. He unexpectedly succumbed to heart failure. He was proud of his excellent health, but God had other plans for him in heaven, needing someone to fix His car!

Tom was born at home on the family farm in Corning, Iowa on October 20, 1931 to William George and Margaret Katherine Sullivan, a proud Irish Catholic family. He was the sixth of seven children. He grew up just after the depression and the family struggled to keep the farm. They had food on the table, but amenities were limited. He attended a one room schoolhouse with children from neighboring farms in the pasture of their farm, attending with all grades 1 through 8. He rode a horse for several years into town to attend Corning High School before the family was able to let him take the car. He graduated from Corning High School and worked on the family farm for several years.

Not liking the low pay/no pay situation on the family farm, he decided joining the U.S. Air Force might be his ticket to an income and to meet girls. In 1952 at the age of twenty he followed his older brothers into the U.S. Air Force. While he was stationed at Ellington A.F.B. in Houston, Texas in 1954 he won the lottery when he met his future wife, Mary Jane Anderson, at a local YWCA dance. The dashing young Aviation Cadet proposed, and they married 3 months later at Annunciation Catholic Church in downtown Houston on October 2, 1954. They were married for 64 years at the time of Tom’s death.

Tom and Mary Jane travelled across the U.S. with the U.S. Air Force and had one or more children in every state they lived in except for Ohio. Starting their wedded journey in Houston they transferred to Austin, Texas where Thomas James Jr. and Patrick Joseph were born. They transferred to Roswell, New Mexico where an alien spaceship delivered Michael Todd. As such he has no belly button! From there the family moved to Atwater, California where his three daughters were born, Maureen Frances, Kathryn Marie and Margaret Ann. A frozen transfer to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan produced many blizzards and the resulting two sons just trying to stay warm, Timothy George and Daniel Shawn. Crisscrossing the U.S. back to sunny southern California to defrost they enjoyed the weather but no new kids.

In 1968 the Vietnam War called, and the family was transferred to Columbus, Ohio where the family resided while Tom went to Vietnam for 10 months. Tom recently expressed to his children that he missed them terribly while he was gone for so long. That was particularly hard on his wife as she was caring for 8 children on her own in a new city. But everyone survived. The last transfer to Bossier City, Louisiana capped his U.S. Air Force career and he retired as a Major after 20 years. After retiring he was overjoyed to have one more son, William Taylor. That put the count at 6 sons and 3 daughters.

As luck would have it, Mary Jane wanted to move closer to family where it all began in Houston, Texas and the family made a final move to Pearland, Texas in 1975. Tom attended University of Houston on the G.I. Bill and the family thrived. After flooding in Pearland several times Tom and Mary Jane moved high and dry to Missouri City, Texas.

In his later years, Tom’s greatest joy was dinner out with family or parties at his children’s homes. He particularly enjoyed playing with the babies. In his spare time, he enjoyed working on cars and was a handyman. He was especially creative when it came to do-it-yourself projects and he spent endless time coming up with Rube Goldberg inventions. He was a self-taught stock market investor and had an eye for an undervalued stock. He was frugal and knew how to make do with nothing, probably due to growing up in the Depression as well as having 9 children. During his career he rebuilt a crashed Piper Pacer aircraft and enjoyed flying his family around.

After the birth of his granddaughter, Kristi Oujesky, and her diagnosis of Down syndrome, he became especially involved with the Down Syndrome Association of Houston and volunteered as the treasurer for 9 years. He was proud of her and wore her picture keychain on his shirt button, just waiting for someone to ask about her. He was a member of Knights of Columbus for 55 years, attaining 4th degree rank. He was awarded many flying medals and letters of commendation.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, William George and Margaret Katherine Sullivan and all 6 of his siblings: Leo, George, Vincent, Kathryn, Marjory, and Edward. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Mary Jane Anderson Sullivan; son, Thomas James Jr. of Plano; Patrick Joseph and wife Joyce of Austin; Michael Todd and wife Barbara of Montgomery; Maureen Frances Cook and husband Glenn of Houston; Kathryn Marie Oujesky and husband Robert of Sugar Land; Margaret Ann Kneeland of Longmont, Colorado; Timothy George and husband Douglas Winnie of Bellaire; Daniel Shawn and wife Shannon of Richmond; William Taylor and partner Gina of Tomball; grandchildren, James, Christopher Reid, and Johnathan (Lauren) Sullivan; Andrew Sullivan and Mary McNeel (Dave); Kimberly (Kyle Zabadal), Emily and Abigail Cook; Kristi, Cody and Ryan (Hannah Przybilla) Oujesky; Michelle Kurz (Brandon) and Michael Kneeland; Tyler, Logan and Luke Sullivan; Emmi, Ashlyn and Taylor Sullivan; Olivia Urdiales; Mary, Beth and Douglas Sullivan. Great-grandchildren Colin and Kendall Kurz; Conan Sullivan.

In lieu of flowers, please support Gigi’s Playhouse, a Down Syndrome Achievement Center that his granddaughter with Down syndrome, Kristi, attends. This magical place is near and dear to the family. Click the link to make a donation so they may continue to provide purposeful programs and Kristi has a place to flourish! Click here and then on the donate in the upper right. Indicate memoriam for Thomas J. Sullivan. Thanks! https://gigisplayhouse.org/sugarland/

Services

  • Visitation Sunday, April 14, 2019
  • Rosary Service Sunday, April 14, 2019
  • Funeral Service Monday, April 15, 2019
  • Committal Service Monday, April 15, 2019
REMEMBERING

Thomas James Sullivan

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Kimberly Cook

April 11, 2019

Grandpa and his pretty ladies. 2018.

Lauren and John Sullivan

April 11, 2019

FROM THE FAMILY

Tom and Edward and brothers

FROM THE FAMILY

Large family

FROM THE FAMILY

Grandma Margaret, Grandpa Bill, Leo, Tom, Edward

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Dad riding with his brothers in the back of a carriage.

FROM THE FAMILY

Dad pulling his brothers in a carriage

FROM THE FAMILY

This is where Tom went to school for grades 1-8. It was in the corner of the Sullivan family farm pasture.

FROM THE FAMILY

Tom in high school

FROM THE FAMILY

Tom and Edward and brothers

FROM THE FAMILY

Large family

FROM THE FAMILY

Grandma Margaret, Grandpa Bill, Leo, Tom, Edward

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Dad riding with his brothers in the back of a carriage.

FROM THE FAMILY

Dad pulling his brothers in a carriage

FROM THE FAMILY

This is where Tom went to school for grades 1-8. It was in the corner of the Sullivan family farm pasture.

FROM THE FAMILY

Tom in high school

FROM THE FAMILY

High School graduation

FROM THE FAMILY