Family and friends will gather April 30th to celebrate the life of Jim Sullivan. Here’s the remembrance they are sharing with his community:
James “Jim” Sullivan lost his 8-year battle with an aggressive form of Parkinson’s Disease on March 15, 2022, just shy of his 69th birthday. All who knew and loved him are so impressed with the grace he showed during the course of his disease and the many life changes it caused. He will be remembered as a hard-working family man with a quick wit and infectious smile.
Jim was born on April 6th, 1953 in Raymond, Washington, to Leoncie and Ray Darling. His birth followed that of his siblings, Linda (1950) and Ray Sullivan (1952), his lifelong best friends and partners in crime. A decade later, his mother remarried and he gained a father in Terry Sullivan. Jim was no longer the baby but became a big brother to his sisters. First came Terri (1963) and soon after Toni (1966), and the family was complete. Jim was born in Raymond but moved to West Seattle as a young boy and was a West Seattleite through and through. Jim lived in the Alki and Arbor Heights neighborhoods growing up and attended school at Alki Elementary, Arbor Heights Elementary, Denny Middle School, and Chief Sealth High School (Class of 1971). Early on, his teachers noticed his artistic talents. The subject he was most interested in and excelled most in was art. After high school, he took art classes at South Seattle College and began life as a starving artist. He rented a studio in Pike Place Market where he would design artwork for bands, magazines, restaurants, and anyone else who would pay! In his years after high school, Jim enjoyed sailing around Puget Sound, hiking, duck hunting, and traveling to visit his sister Linda at her home on the big island of Hawaii.
At 30 years old, Jim met the love of his life, Michelle. They enjoyed many trips to Hawaii, driving their white Fierro around town with their cooler strapped to the back, hunting and spending time with family and friends. A handful of years later, the two got married, bought their home in Arbor Heights, and welcomed the joys of their life, Alexis (1992) and Alana (1994). They bought a commercial space on 35th Avenue and opened Alexis Antiques and held onto the building for years as landlords. The years were filled with projects in the yard, hikes to the community beach, barbecues, Chief Sealth sporting events, his daughter’s softball games, and many laughs.
During all of those busy years, Jim supported his family using his artistic skills as a furniture refinisher and carpenter. In the furniture world, he was known as “Sully.” He worked for various furniture companies in the area, including the Bon Marche, where he started his career, and Room & Board, where he ended his career. Jim was the “antique whisperer” – he could take a banged-up old piece of furniture and bring it back to its original condition. When not working at his full-time job, he was always working on a side project through his business “Sully’s OnSite Furniture Repair.” He worked extremely hard and never complained. His daughters will always remember their dad as a hard worker who would do anything for his family. After years of this work, Jim realized that his speed and ability to prioritize projects at work was deteriorating. He also read an article about a celebrity who was having a hard time brushing their teeth and had noticed changes in handwriting. These were changes Jim had noticed in himself as well, so he reached out to a neurologist. It was in 2014 that his Parkinson’s diagnosis was confirmed, and he retired from Room & Board and sold his commercial real-estate building.
It wasn’t the retirement anyone was hoping for for Jim, but he had many good years. He filled these years with trips to Westport with his family and grand-dogs, Mariners games with his daughter Alexis and her partner Chuck, bike rides, yard work, and working on home improvements with his brother Ray. One of his favorite activities was visiting his daughters at The Original Bakery, where they both worked for many years. The disease was always throwing something new his way. As his disease progressed, Jim was becoming more and more frustrated and depressed. Fortunately in 2019 his daughter Alana and her husband Ruben produced the best Parkinson’s treatment on the market … grandchildren! Jim’s granddaughters Clara and Ella were immediately his new best friends and biggest joys. No matter what his disease was throwing at him, a visit from his granddaughters would turn his day right around. The trips and outings were replaced with walks at Lincoln Park, dance parties, cuddles, barbecues, and pool parties in the yard.
In 2021 after many loving years and making memories as a family, it was time for Jim to receive care outside of the home and give his wife Michelle some much-needed rest from years of around-the-clock caregiving. Jim moved into the Rosewood Adult Family Home in Normandy Park and was treated like family. He loved his caregivers and made many special bonds with them. He raved about the food and enjoyed visits from his family and friends as well as occasional outings. After 6 months and even more progression in his disease, it was time to transition to memory care. Jim was cared for at the Chateau at Valley in Renton for the next 6 months, where they were extremely patient and communicative while his disease continued to complicate life for him.
Jim passed peacefully at Valley Medical Center after an overnight stay. He spent one last night with family and rested overnight with his daughter Alana. Close family members who live locally came to say their goodbyes and he was surrounded by love until the end. It has been a long road with lots of ups and downs, and we are at peace knowing that he passed peacefully, painlessly, and is no longer suffering.
For those of you who loved Jim, we would enjoy your presence at his celebration of life. We will eat, share stories, and enjoy celebrating such a wonderful soul. The celebration will be Saturday, April 30th at his family home from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM. Please reach out to his daughter Alexis Sullivan for further details (firstname.lastname@example.org).
(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries and memorial announcements by request, free of charge. Please email the text, and a photo if available, to email@example.com)