In Loving Memory of Timothy Sullivan

Timothy Sullivan passed away on June 18, 2021. The following tribute was written by Russell Easby-Smith.

Timothy Sullivan, known as Tim or Sully, has been a member of our community for a decade. A soft spoken man who many might have thought unassuming, but when you stopped and listened, he always had a tale worth listening to. He told me his fathers best advice to him was to always to listen to others, you might learn something, those who are always doing the talking don’t learn anything. He was literally the guy in the room with the most interesting stories, but people rarely knew it.

He had a full scholarship to a school of engineering, a skiing scholarship. The schools ski team was new and when they went to compete they realized someone had to do the jumping event to qualify. No one on the team had ever done ski jumping (we are talking about the ski jumping where you launch off of a ramp and literally fly and have to land without dying). Tim volunteered to do it, he lived, never mentioned any trophies though, doing it was enough in my book.

His engineering degree led him many places. The South Pole being the one he talked most about. Yes, the literal South Pole, not McMurdo station on the coast of Antarctica, but 900 miles inland to the true South Pole, in Winter! He led construction of a radio telescope there which is still in use today advancing our scientific knowledge.

Young Tim Sullivan wearing a cowboy hat, riding horseback.

A young Tim Sullivan in his cowboy days.

But Tim was not a man to let a talent in engineering hold him back. He spent time in Montana and Colorado running cattle as well. He had a knack for horses and roping. He spent days, weeks, maybe more on end on trail (I wish I knew more of these stories to retell), living a life long forgotten in these days, as a real cowboy.
His life had ups and downs. Times of homelessness, times of prosperity. Working on building mansions in St John and rubbing elbows with European Princes at sandy beach bars. Times where he couldn’t afford a bus ticket to his next job. But he always lived life, this is where he and I connected, a desire to live life rather then attain wealth and property. He was a big believer in working a 6 month job, then taking 6 months off.
He had to mime to me, near the end, when he could barely get words out. It took 20 minutes for me to understand. He wanted to give me a “pearl of wisdom”. He showed his cupped hands opening, and then took a finger to remove something, then pointed at his head. When I finally understood the mime, he took all of his energy to whisper in my ear, “Don’t play the game”. I can interpret that in many ways, but I know Tim and I take to heart what he meant, and I pass it on to everyone to consider as well.

He leaves behind a son, Ryan Sullivan, in Colorado.

Rest in peace, Timothy Sullivan.

A photo of Tim Sullivan drinking a Corona beer, days before his passing.

The Bocas Breeze is a digital and print newspaper proudly serving the Bocas del Toro community since 2004; reporting news, advertising local businesses and promoting tourism in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

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