John Walter (Sean) Sullivan, age 95, of Abingdon, VA, died peacefully Sunday morning, April 23, 2017.
Born in Malden, MA, May 4, 1921, he was the son of Patrick Joseph (PJ) and Anna Gilman Sullivan. His wife, Anne, predeceased him in 2000. He is survived by his two daughters, Anne Ward (Richard) of New Canaan, CT, Louise Bagby (Charles) of Hopatcong, NJ, two sons, John (Sean) Sullivan, Jr. (Sylvia) of Oak Hill, VA, Padraic (PJ) Sullivan of Arlington, VA, and four grandchildren, Daniel Ward, Andrew Ward (Jacquelyn), Ethan Sullivan and Elizabeth Sullivan. Private funeral services and internment will be held at the family plot in Forest Hills Memorial Garden, Abingdon, VA.
Sean Sullivan was raised in Caribou, ME. At age 15, he won the Maine Soap Box Derby and competed in the national finals in Akron, Ohio. He graduated from Caribou High School and Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. His Harvard Class of 1943 had an accelerated class schedule and graduated as class orator in January of that year in order to go into World War II. As part of the Signal Corps he saw service in England, Belgium, and the Netherlands and was involved in the SIGABA encryption program. Returning home in 1946, he attended The American Academy of the Dramatic Arts and Fordham University in New York City where he completed his Master of Fine Arts in Television Programming.
After marrying his wartime sweetheart, Anne Williams, in 1947, he began working at ABC television while it was still part of NBC as the Blue Network. His more than 35 years there included winning a directing Emmy Award and multiple Emmy nominations. He served as a Director of the Directors Guild of America and was involved in such programs as The US Steel Hour, Khrushchev’s 1960 UN shoe-banging incident, MLK’s 1963 March on Washington, Miss America pageants, Like It Is, Dark Shadows, The Price Is Right, and One Life To Live. He was also very involved in the Montclair Dramatic Club in Montclair, NJ, acting and directing in Witness For The Prosecution, The Silver Chord, Inherit The Wind, Visit To A Small Planet, and A Far Country.
After retiring from ABC, Sean returned to his first love, acting. A role in Don Juan in Hell brought him to the Barter Theater in Abingdon, VA, in the late 1980’s. Seeing the many possibilities in the arts community around the Barter, Sean and his wife, Anne, sold their home of over 30 years in Glen Ridge, NJ, and moved to Abingdon. He became active in mentoring young people in writing and enjoyed attending the College for Older Adults as well as participating in various Barter Theater productions. He also continued his lifelong practice of writing plays and poetry. Health setbacks in recent years resulted in his spending the past several years with his daughter Anne’s family in New Canaan, CT. He loved the theater, language, philosophy, and the arts. His family and friends miss him greatly. A Celebration of Life reception will be scheduled in the future. In lieu of flowers, he would have appreciated a donation to the Barter Theater in Abingdon, VA. For on line condolences please visit www.hoytfuneralhome.com