2001-12-08 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

By Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

By Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey



It is with deep regret that I heard early Monday morning that James Conway Sullivan had passed away. Jimmy was the moving force behind and in front of our Queens St. Patrick's Day Parade.

James Conway Sullivan had a dream - to create a Queens St. Patrick's Day Parade in the Rockaways. At the age of 19 or 20 when others are finding themselves, Jimmy was focused on sharing his love of Irish culture, religion and tradition with the community. The parade in March 2002 will be the 27th annual parade.

Jimmy's dream - a parade has been an economic success for the Rockaways. The parade attracts people from the tri-state area to our community. People line the parade route from Beach 130 Street and Newport Avenue to St. Rose of Lima on Beach 84th Street between Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Shore Front Parkway. Every restaurant and pub is filled to overflowing on parade day.

The parade attracts dignitaries from all parts of the state. Mayor Rudolph Guiliani has marched in the parade for the last nine years consecutively. (Two years ago the rain and wind started as they cut the parade ribbon to begin the line of march. Mayor Guiliani marched the entire parade route regardless of the strong inclement weather and the fact that he was soaked to the skin). Other dignitaries including governors, senators, congressman and local elected officials all join our celebration.

Jimmy Sullivan had strong religious roots that were part of his Irish heritage. Each year he began the parade day by having the community and parade members participate in a Mass for Peace and Justice in Ireland held at Saint Frances de Sales church.

James Sullivan was a very inclusive person. As the parade was growing Jimmy was reaching out to all parts of the community and inviting them to participate. At Jimmy's recommendation the committee consists of Catholics, Protestants and Jewish representatives. He wanted everyone to share in the pride of being Irish at our Queens St. Patrick's Day Parade.

James Conway Sullivan learned his love of all things Irish from his parents. He was named after his father who was also James Sullivan (His father, a detective on the NYPD also passed away from a massive heart attack at the same age as Jimmy). Jimmy's parents had a warm and loving Irish home. They always had an open door, a warm greeting, a great meal and a spot of tea for all that came to visit. Jimmy loved the frequent visits of his relatives from Ireland. He looked forward to the warm and friendly Sunday dinners when family and friends would gather. He was fascinated by the conversations about Irish history, traditions and politics. He listened intently and remembered every small detail. He was particularly fond of the evenings spent in the living room listening to Irish music and singing along. He was delighted as he saw his relatives dance around the living room to the traditional Irish favorites.

Jimmy's interest in Ireland led him to be an avid reader of every book or newspaper about Ireland. In college, he took many courses on Irish history. He visited his relatives often in Ireland and was fluent on all aspects of Irish culture, tradition and history. He really enjoyed debating Irish political issues.

Jimmy Sullivan's mother Rosemary is truly a remarkable woman. When her husband died suddenly she had four children ranging in age from 2 years to 13 years old. She was a single mother at a time when it was not popular. Rosemary is charismatic, articulate, intelligent, humorous, independent and energetic. She has a warmth and generosity of spirit that she passed on to her family. In addition, she is always smartly dressed. Since the apples don't fall far from the tree her daughter Rosemary is vivacious, enthusiastic, capable and effective. She serves as a Guidance Counselor for the New York City Board of Education. Rosemary Sullivan Murphy is an accomplished academician who is a strong asset to our public school system. Rosemary is married to John Murphy. John is a very strong and caring person who can be counted on as a friend. John is understanding and competent. John Murphy has a demonstrated capacity for leadership and the ability to unify and motivate others into moving toward a shared goal and vision. Daniel and Kevin - Jimmy Sullivan's brothers are energetic and successful professionals who are completing their doctoral degrees. Dan and Kevin both have beautiful children and lovely wives. They have demonstrated a life long commitment to professional excellence and traditional Irish family values.

James Conway Sullivan is to be remembered for his strong record of accomplishments. He was a true son of Ireland. He was looking forward to completing his master's degree in the spring. He was a loving son, a wonderful brother and a great friend. His accomplishments will live on. His legacy will continue each year as we step off for the annual Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade.

James Conway Sullivan with Grand Marshall Jack Maloney and Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey at a recent Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade.

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