A Caring Negotiator
Tim O'Sullivan remembers going to his father's office at the Bronx Zoo one night as a child and discovering that his father knew the night janitor's entire family by their first names. When the son expressed amazement, his father said, "Here at the zoo, we have tremendous scientific minds, but what good would they be if they were buried up to their necks in wastepaper?"
His father, Timothy F. O'Sullivan, who was 68, worked as a personnel manager, then as an administrator and specialist in labor relations at the Wildlife Conservation Society. His success as a negotiator, his children believe, stemmed from his ability to make everyone he encountered feel like the only person on the planet and from an unshakable respect for working folks.
He was 6-feet-7 and had stood eye-to-eye with an elephant. He loved military history, jokes and Geraldine, his wife of 43 years, whom he met at a St. Patrick's Day firemen's dance in the Bronx. After he retired and moved to the Poconos ‹ "just me and my girl," he would say ‹ he worked as a consultant to the Cultural Institutions Retirement System, commuting one day every six to eight weeks to the trade center.
"What did somebody say to me?" Mr. O'Sullivan's daughter, Denise, said recently, alluding to where her father would be headed next. " 'There's nobody better to lead the other 5,000 in ‹ to negotiate their way in.' "
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 10, 2001.