Tuesday, November 15, 2011

(as published in the Daily Gleaner, November 15/11)

Mourned Jim Sullivan's death shocks and devastates friends and sports community

Champion: Jim Sullivan is seen in this October 1998 file photo. The winner of the 1988 world junior curling title died over the weekend. (photo by Steve McGillvary)

The curling world is mourning the death of Jim Sullivan, who led New Brunswick teams to the junior men's title in 1988 and a second-place finish in 1990 at the Brier men's national championships.

The skip of the first team from New Brunswick to win a world championship in any sport in more than 60 years, Sullivan was elected in 1994 to the province's Sports Hall of Fame.

A married father of two daughters, he died unexpectedly Saturday in Fredericton at age 43.

"I am just devastated and shocked," said Russ Howard of Moncton, an Olympic gold medalist and two-time world curling champion. "Jim was a wonderful guy with a great sense of humour, but a lot of people have forgotten how exceptional a curler he was.

"I bet I faced him 50 times over the years and can't remember ever beating him by more than one point. We had incredible matches.

"I am going to miss him."

Born into a family of top curlers, his father, David, competed in six Briers, his uncle, Charles, competed in five, and his cousin, Charlie Jr,, competed in four.

"In the province of New Brunswick, when you say 'Sullivan' and 'curling,' you are talking about royalty," said Jeff Lacey of Saint John, who curled with Jim Sullivan for three seasons. "This is a big loss to the curling community as a whole and to the world in general ... He was the nicest person you could ever imagine."

Sullivan was employed as a technical support analyst with Genesys Canada. The cause of his death hasn't been released.

"He was a guy everybody liked within curling circles," said Mike Flannery of Fredericton, who curled with Jim and his father, accompanying David to the 1976 Brier. "Jim was just a joy to be around.

"You didn't mind losing to him because he was such a nice guy. You couldn't dislike a bone in his body."

The skip of the Jim Sullivan Rink, his team captured the provincial and national men's junior titles in 1987 before going on to win the world junior title in Germany with his cousin, Charlie, Craig Burgess and Dan Alderman. He lost to Ed Werenich in a closely contested final at the Brier.
Sullivan is survived by his wife Sonya; his daughters, Jordan Lyn and Jamie Brynn; his parents David and Carol Sullivan of Fredericton; and his siblings, Evan Sullivan of Belleville, Ont,, Brian Sullivan of New Maryland and Karen Duxbury (Neil) of Toronto.

Arrangements are being handled by Brenan's Funeral Home in Saint John, with visitations Wednesday and Thursday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. A funeral service will be held Friday at noon at the Church of St. Andrew and St. David in Saint John.

The family has asked that any donations be directed to the Sotos Syndrome Support Association of Canada or the Canadian Mental Health Association.

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