Joseph Sullivan, age 71, of Manistee, formerly of Saginaw, died Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 at home surrounded by his family after a brief battle with cancer. Papa was ushered into Heaven by his grandson, Brandon, playing his baritone at the band concert with his sister, Kaitlin, there to support his commitment to play while granddaughter, Lyndsey, held vigil by Papa's side until they arrived. Commitment was an important virtue in Joe's life, and he instilled it in the three of them.
Joe was born Jan. 11, 1947 in Saginaw, son of the late John M. Sullivan and Kathleen (Corcoran) Sullivan. Joe married the love of his life, Marilyn Slaybaugh, on May 23, 1975 in Saginaw.
Joe had many accomplishments in his lifetime. He attended St. Andrews Catholic School in Saginaw. He was a star fullback and punter for the St. Andrews Bulldogs.
In 1966 he joined the U.S. Army, where he served two tours of duty in Vietnam building airstrips for the Green Berets, traveling ahead with Gen. Westmoreland.
After his discharge in 1969 he returned to Saginaw and started Sullivan Excavating Co. in 1972. Joe also co-owned The Establishment in Midland. Most of his adult life he was a construction superintendent overseeing multimillion dollar road construction projects, schools and residential developments in Naples, Florida, and throughout Northern Michigan.
After his retirement in 2010 he spent countless hours in his yard tending to his pond, beautiful flower beds and tormenting anyone within 50 feet of his gardening hose (even a city police officer traveling past our home), smiling all the while. He loved his "Man Cave."
Joe cherished his family camping trips, especially "The Sullivan Family Reunion," which he and his wife started in 1991 in Lake Ann, gambling with his grandchildren and watching the sunset with his wife. He loved enjoying nature, snowshoeing before beginning to winter in Florida in 2014. He loved and lived life to the fullest. He was a one-of-a-kind guy and will be greatly missed by all who came in contact with him during his lifetime.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Joanne; brother, Bob; brothers-in-law, Richard Gaumer and Gilbert Beach; and sister-in-law, Marianne.
Joe is survived by his beloved wife, Marilyn; son, Jason (Marci); daughters, Shannon, of Manistee, and Jennifer (Rod); siblings, Jack (Teddy), Mary Kay (Bob), Rose Mary, Colleen (J.D.) and Tom (Cathy); grandchildren, Lyndsey, Brandon, Kaitlin, Josh (Tiffany), Zachary (Nicole) and Michell (Justin); and great-grandchildren, Isabella and Annabella.
Services will be held Saturday, March 10, 2018, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the Oak Grove Funeral Home & Cremation Center in Manistee, with a time of sharing at 2 p.m. and military honors given by the Manistee United Veterans Council.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Joe's name may be made to the D.A.V. of Manistee, Hospice of Michigan or Homeward Bound of Manistee.
To share a photo or memory with the family, please visit Joe's personal page at www.oakgrovefh.com.
The Oak Grove Funeral Home & cremation Center in Manistee has been entrusted with arrangements.
Published on March 7, 2018