by Dennis Dalman
At a spry 90 years old, Dewey “Sully” Sullivan won’t use the elevator at his assisted-living home, the Legends of Heritage Place, in Sartell. He prefers to walk up and down the stairs. And he also loves to go to The Legends’ exercise classes.
That might explain why Sullivan, who is nearly as old as the City of Sartell, is so healthy and so alert for his age. Recently, his family and friends hosted a surprise 90th birthday party for him at the House of Pizza in Sartell.
“Dad is the nicest man in the world,” said his daughter, Colleen Schwegel of St. Joseph. “Just ask anybody. He’s so calm. Always on an even keel. He seldom gets mad or angry. When mom was ill, he took such good care of her and never once complained about it.”
Born in Montevideo, Sullivan moved to the St. Cloud-Sartell area as a young man to begin working at Sears and Roebuck, first in downtown St. Cloud, later at the Crossroads mall. Sullivan kept that job for 30 years.
For many years, he lived in a house on Riverside Drive in Sartell, then on 1st Avenue just off of Riverside Drive and later in the Oak Hill Apartments.
Most Sartell old-timers know Sullivan well. He was at one time the Sartell village clerk when people would go to his house to pay their water bills. He also owned and operated Sully’s True Value Hardware in the Riverside Shopping Plaza. His wife, Irene (Shank), was raised with 12 other siblings in a house within a block from the old Sartell School, now the school district’s Services Building. Irene passed away in December 2011.
Sullivan served in the U.S. Air Force as an airplane ball-turret gunner, one of the most dangerous jobs in the military. Sullivan, who was honored with many medals, was happy to go on a Freedom Flight in 2012 to Washington, D.C. to see the war monuments and other sites with fellow veterans. It was, he said, “an incredible and amazing trip.”
Sullivan likes to go to casinos now and then, and he loves to watch sports on TV – any sports except golf.
The Sullivans have three children: Mike, Pat and Colleen. Mike and Cecelia Sullivan live in Walnut Creek, Calif.; Pat and Kathy Sullivan live in Sartell and have four children – Shane, Blake, Mitchell, Caitlin; Colleen and Rob Schwegel live in St. Joseph. They have a daughter Cassie, whose boy, born on Christmas Day 2011, was named Sully after his great-grandfather. Colleen and Rob’s son Chad and his wife Tishel, have one daughter, Tanya.
At his 90th birthday party at House of Pizza in Sartell, Dewey “Sully” Sullivan and his sons and daughter gather at the mementos table, which displayed old photographs, World War II medals and of course a birthday cake. From left to right are Mike Sullivan, Dewey Sullivan, Pat Sullivan and Colleen (Sullivan) Schwegel.
Sully Johnson, the great-grandson of Dewey “Sully” Sullivan of Sartell, holds up his great-grandpa’s medals earned when he was a bull-turret gunner in World War II. Sully is the son of Cassie Schwegel and Dustin Johnson.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.