George William Sullivan
1931 - 2020
{ "" }
Share George's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
George William Sullivan

West Des Moines - George William Sullivan, 89, passed away peacefully on October 9, 2020 at his home at Edgewater Retirement Community in West Des Moines, Iowa due to complications from dementia. Born on June 10, 1931 to George C. and Mildred Field Sullivan, George was a life-long Des Moines resident. George met his wife, Joan Coffey, at Warren Harding Junior High and later, George and Joan were high school sweethearts. George graduated from East High School in 1949 and he and Joan were married on December 26, 1951.

After starting college, George joined the United States Army in August of 1951. George served in Korea as a Sergeant in the 2nd Infantry Division during the Korean War in 1952-53, earning a Bronze Star. After returning from military service, George graduated from Iowa State University in 1955 with a degree in business administration and from Drake University Law School in 1958.

George was a partner at the Davis Brown law firm, where he worked as an attorney for over 25 years. George specialized in banking law, which combined his interests in both law and finance. George loved working with bankers throughout the state. George was a hard worker throughout his life and would often remark on the benefits of getting to work early.

George was active in the community, and he served as president of Des Moines Goodwill Industries, president of the Des Moines Chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, president of the Des Moines Embassy Club, and president of the Des Moines Pioneer Club. George was also active in the Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, United Way, the Des Moines Convention Bureau, and the East High School Alumni Foundation, where he was named to the East High School Alumni Hall of Fame. George appreciated the benefits he enjoyed from having a good education and he was always supportive of the scholarship program created by the East High School Alumni Foundation.

George was kind, considerate, gracious and very much a gentleman. George always preferred to be thoughtful and understated rather than brash or outspoken. George was a loyal friend to many, and he had lifelong friends from his youth, social friends he and Joan remained close to for decades, longtime golf partners, and friends made more recently at Edgewater. George and Joan liked to travel and George especially enjoyed their many trips to the Caribbean together, often with close friends, as well as trips to Ireland to visit friends made through the Des Moines Friendship Force. George loved playing golf, a sport he adopted in midlife, and he was pleased to make two hole in ones. For over 20 years Joan and George enjoyed spending sunny winters together at their home at Bear's Paw Country Club in Naples, Florida. George was also a member of Wakonda Club in Des Moines. George was active in First Christian Church for many years, and later he and Joan joined the rest of their family as members at Plymouth Congregational Church.

George and Joan enjoyed over 67 years of marriage together. George and Joan had four children, and he loved their close-knit family life. George and Joan lived in a traditional red brick home in the Waterbury area for almost 45 years, where many good family memories were made. George encouraged his children to have a morning newspaper route so they would get in the habit of rising early and going to work. George had nine grandchildren, many of whom lived just a block or two away, allowing impromptu visits for cookies or ice cream. George and Joan enjoyed frequent family dinners with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as summer family trips to Colorado or Minnesota. "Pop" was a wonderful grandfather to the grandchildren and he loved to take them on golf cart rides at their home in Florida.

George led a full life and will be dearly missed by his family and friends. George is survived and lovingly remembered by his four children (all of the Des Moines area), Janie Sullivan Wine (Jim), Tom Sullivan (Molly), Jack Sullivan (Linda) and Mary Sullivan O'Brien (Todd), his nine grandchildren, Carolyn Wine (Jackie Aanes ), Sarah Wine Katelman (Joe), Mary Wine Schlehuber (Eric), Annie Sullivan, Kate O'Brien Ricard (Nico), John O'Brien, Barbie Sullivan, Meghan Sullivan and Susie Sullivan, and three great-grandchildren, Charlotte Katelman, William Katelman and Fritz Aanes-Wine. George was preceded in death by his wife, Joan, and by his parents. George is also survived by his brother, John Sullivan, his wife Florita, George's nephews, Fred Sullivan and Jeff Sullivan, and a niece, Ann Coffey Hanggi.

The family appreciates and extends a special thank you to the staff at Edgewater Assisted Living and Healthcare Centers and WesleyLife Hospice for the compassionate care provided to George.

Due to the health pandemic, unfortunately there will not be a public memorial service. There will be a private burial service for George's family at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, those who would like to honor George's memory may consider a donation to one of his favorite causes: the Plymouth Congregational Church Foundation, the Edgewater Good Samaritan Fund or the East High School Alumni Foundation. Condolences may be expressed at

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in the Des Moines Register from Oct. 12 to Oct. 18, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Hamilton's Funeral Home
Not sure what to say?
3 entries
October 18, 2020
I liked and respected George very much, and I was saddened to read of his passing in this morning's newspaper. He served as my mentor during the time I practiced law with the Davis Brown Firm, and I wanted to share a remembrance of him. Sometime during the early '80s, while I was an associate at the Firm, the partners decided that more than a few associates were, shall we say, sartorially challenged. The solution was to invite local clothier Bill Reichardt to the firm to address the associates on fundamentals of dressing professionally, building a wardrobe, etc. So all the associates, and several partners assembled in the large conference room and listened to Bill explain how to dress well and professionally and to answer questions. At the end of his remarks Bill told the room that if any of us ever wondered how to dress properly, professionally, and well, we should just pay attention to what George Sullivan wears, and mimic him. How true! George was always impeccably dressed and was very professional in appearance and demeanor. Btw, his office was always neat as a pin also. Rest In Peace, George. His family has my deepest sympathy.
Dave Dunn
October 13, 2020
Our thoughts are with the extended Sullivan family at this time of great loss. We always enjoyed seeing your family taking up a pew at Plymouth.
Wade & Kathy Dewald
October 13, 2020
George was a super kind man. I loved, respected, and admired George in every way possible. He was a person to look up too. They say you can't pick your relatives. The Sullivan family were relatives I would have picked no matter what. Glad to be a small part. I will miss you Uncle George!
Tom Porter
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences