By Kristin Grafft
Recently retired diesel mechanics teacher Donald Sullivan, died Monday, Feb. 11 at 74 due to total organ failure.
Sullivan retired from his 37-year teaching career in June after coming down with valley fever. “He’d been sick with congestive heart disease and valley fever had been taking a toll on his lungs. Then his kidneys started to go because of the medication he was on for his heart and lungs,” said Vickie Sullivan, Sullivan’s wife. 53-year-old son Anthony Sullivan also survives Donald Sullivan.
Dale Carlson, a LBCC diesel mechanics teacher, said the diesel mechanics department was Sullivan’s life. Sullivan was the department head and had taught all of the classes, at least at some point. “This whole place was his life. This was basically his home,” Carlson said. The former colleague also credits Sullivan with getting Caterpillar to fund the diesel program.
Both Vickie Sullivan and Carlson expressed Sullivan’s clear love for engines and mechanics outside his job as well. Vickie explained that his passion went beyond just teaching, “He loved to work on cars, engines, anything to do with mechanical stuff,” she said. Sullivan had several cars in his garage at home that he had been working on for years with the hope of finishing once he retired.
Cal Macy, project director of advanced transportation, added that, “He talked about starting out as a heavy-duty mechanic with his dad and his love of diesel engines was very obvious.”
His love for the field and his dedication to his job were noticed and appreciated by many at LBCC. Byron Breland, PCC associate vice president, said, “Mr. Donald Sullivan was a long-time instructor at the PCC who dedicated his time, energy and efforts to successfully preparing students for gainful employment in the diesel industry. His steadfast commitment to his job and overall contributions to the diesel program at LBCC cannot be understated.”
Donations for a scholarship in his memory may be made to the LBCC Foundation, mail code B-12.