Robert Francis Sullivan was born on May 16, 1923, as the second son of Leo P and Elizabeth (Hawn) Sullivan. Bob grew up on a farm near Dunlap, IA, graduating high school, in 1940, from St. Joseph School.
Bob married Theresa Marie Dieter, October 11, 1945, at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Denison, IA. Together they raised a family of 16 children while farming and living off the land in and around Dunlap, Dow City, Denison, and Earling. After many years of farming they retired and moved to Woodbine. The couple’s motto ”Sure Do”….love you, is familiar to the many people who crossed paths with the Sullivan family.
Bob was an active member in the Catholic Church. Ordained, in 1977, as a Deacon in the Diocese of
Des Moines, Bob had the privilege of baptizing and witnessing the marriage of many of his children and grandchildren. He was a 4th degree Knight of Columbus. It is noteworthy in his 96 years and one month of life the tremendous support he showed the community at large by the number of funerals he attended.
As a farmer, Bob loved the land and cared for it with pride, commitment, and patience. He was diligent in conserving it and was awarded the Iowa Soil Conservation Award in 1970. During the 1980's farm crisis, he was a crisis support leader helping countless farmers and their families during this difficult period.
Bob’s commitment to education and life long learning was apparent his entire life. By his life and example, he instilled in his children a passion for learning, a desire for knowledge, and a commitment to making a difference in the world. He earned his associate degree, in 1983, and encouraged his children to take every opportunity to advance their education. He interacted with many people through Cursillo, TEC, and REC. He was a charter member, and later a club leader, of the Dunlap Boyer Rooters 4-H Club where his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren became members. Bob and Theresa were inducted into the Crawford County and State of Iowa 4-H Halls of Fame
Grandpa Bob, as he was referred to by most who knew him, loved his family, his horses, going to cattle shows, planting corn with a team of horses at Laura Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet, SD, and driving. He was proud of his heritage and never missed an opportunity to don his Irish outfit. For their 45th wedding anniversary, they went to Ireland where they fit right in with the Irish!
Grandpa Bob loved and enjoyed life to the fullest. As he said, “I need to celebrate all the possibilities of life and people.” He inspired others to live life to its fullest.
Grandpa Bob was preceded in death by his parents; Theresa, the love of his life and wife of 67 years; daughter, Mary Patricia Sadaj; daughter-in-law, Barb Sullivan; grandchildren, Paul Edward Sullivan and Josh Klein; and five siblings, Joe, Dodie Drahota, Jim, Mike and Leo Paul. He is survived by 15 children, Robert Joseph (Marianne), Edward Paul, Margaret Mary, Cathy Claiborne, Timothy John (Joan), Colleen Caufield (Kirk), Thomas Marian (Mary Ann), Theresa Marie Gengler (Denny),Philip Joseph (Betty), Francis Xavier (Mary), Rosemary Vilasana (Harry Ingram), Marie Bernadette Mabie (Dennis), Monica Mary Baldwin (Bill), Sam (Terri), Christine Marie Sullivan; 41 grandchildren; 41 great-grandchildren; three siblings, Sheral Sullivan, Kenny Sullivan and Clara (Abe) Goblirsch; many nieces and nephews; and countless friends.