Dr. James G. Sullivan, a prominent local plastic surgeon died Monday at the Ebeid Hospice Residence. He was 89.
Jim Sullivan was born in South Amboy, NJ, November 24, 1922, to parents George and Mary Sullivan. As a teen his interest in medicine was sparked while battling a nearly fatal bone infection. He attended Seton Hall, Rutgers University, and graduated from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1948. That year he also married Estelle Marie Hess.
Dr. Sullivan was a Captain in the US Army Medical Corps during the Korean conflict. After receiving advanced surgical training in Brooklyn and in Albany, New York, he settled in Toledo in 1956. At that time he joined Dr. John Kelleher in practice and they eventually formed Northwestern Ohio Plastic Surgery Association along with Drs. Biabak, Dean and Robinson.
Two disasters in the Toledo area, the 1960 Cal Poly football team plane crash, and the 1961 tanker truck explosion on the Anthony Wayne Trail underscored the need for specialized burn care in the region. Dr. Sullivan and his partners were instrumental in opening one of the nation's first burn units, which is now known as the Burn Care and Reconstructive Center at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center. In addition to burn injuries, Dr. Sullivan's surgical practice specialized in reconstructive care, treating a multitude of traumatic injuries, repairing many cleft palates/lips and other congenital deformities.
Dr. Sullivan helped advance innovative procedures in plastic surgery, which included the pioneering of functional thumb replacements, and the introduction of microsurgery techniques.
He had a deep commitment to volunteerism. In 1969, Dr. Sullivan served as a volunteer surgeon on the world's first peacetime hospital ship, the SS Hope, training paramedical workers, doctors, and nurses in Tunis. While serving on the ship, he and the medical staff responded to a major flood in southern Tunisia and worked to stem a typhoid outbreak.
Following his retirement in 1987, Jim and Estelle Sullivan relocated to Hilton Head, South Carolina. There he served in the Volunteers In Medicine Free Clinic. He traveled to Peru on medical missions which provided surgical care to underserved populations. Leaving Hilton Head in 1999, Jim and Estelle resided in Oriental, NC until Estelle's death in 2010.
Growing up on the east coast he became an avid sailor - a passion that he pursued for the rest of his life. In his early years he enjoyed racing. Later, he and Estelle traveled extensively by boat. In the early 1960s, he became one of the founding members of North Cape Yacht Club in LaSalle, Michigan.
Jim is survived by daughters, Mary Alice Hernandez (Pedro) of Atlanta, GA, Gail Bocian (Eric) of Toledo, Kathleen Fuller (James) of Athens, OH, Estelle Parker (Alan) of Cleveland, Jeanne Sullivan of Toledo, Patricia Johnson (Thomas) of Austin, TX, Michelle Niklas (Jack) of Hillborough, NC, Christine Callaghan (John) of Toledo; sons, George of San Francisco, CA, James of Toledo, Raymond (Carol) of Ojo, CA, and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. Dr. Sullivan was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Estelle; son, Timothy; granddaughter, Angela Sullivan, and daughter- in- law, Jenelle Sullivan.
They will receive friends at The Bersticker-Scott Funeral Home 3453 Heatherdowns Blvd at Byrne Rd. on Thursday, October 25, 2012, 2:00-9:00 p.m. with a Rosary service at 7:00 p.m. Funeral services will begin at Funeral Home on Friday, October 26, 2012, at 9:15 a.m. followed by the Mass of Christian Burial at Gesu Church 2049 Parkside Blvd at 10:00 a.m. Interment will follow in Calvary Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to The Burn Care and Reconstructive Center at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center. Please view and sign Dr. Sullivan's condolence book at berstickerscottfuneralhome.com
Published in Toledo Blade from Oct. 24 to Oct. 25, 2012