Obituary of Robert Francis Sullivan
Robert Francis Sullivan, a retired Burlington Fire Fighter and lifelong resident of Burlington, passed away on Sunday afternoon, October 28, 2018. He was 91 years old. He was born in the family home on Peach Orchard Road in Burlington. His dad, Charles W. Sullivan was from Cambridge and his mother, Emma May (Godfried) Sullivan was a Nova Scotian immigrant, and she was the third woman to vote in the Town of Burlington. Back then, Peach Orchard Road was just a dirt road with 3 ruts in the road, 1 for each wheel and 1 for the horse pulling the wagon. The family home had an outhouse and used kerosene lamps. It was a simpler time. Bob picked up the love of music from his brothers, and he was a self-taught guitarist and pianist. He fondly remembered how family time was spent in the parlor or front porch playing the guitar and singing folk and country songs. Up until recent years, he would still pick up his guitar and share some of his favorite songs with children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He learned to swim and skate on Mill Pond, which was later expanded to become the Mill Pond Reservoir.
Bob enlisted in the Navy at age 18 and served in the Navy for a year and a half during the tail end of WW II. He was the recipient of the World War II Victory Medal. He worked as a carpenter until becoming a member of the Burlington Fire Department in 1961. He spent much of his time with the fire department as part of Group 1 and drove Engine 1. He had a ladder rescue from a burning building, saved his brother-in-law who was choking, and helped deliver a baby. The baby girl was named Roberta in his honor. He served as President of the Fire Fighter’s Association and worked on many of the Muscular Dystrophy drives. He was well loved at the fire station. Not only was he well respected for his firefighting abilities, but he also brought a sense of fun and family to station. His nickname was “Handsome Bob”. He never said a bad word about anybody and always had his station mates laughing from his endless supply of stories, jokes, and one liners. Nothing made him happier, than seeing 2 of his sons become Burlington Fire Fighters. Prior to his retirement in 1988, he had the opportunity to work alongside his sons for several years.
Bob was also a talented carpenter. He learned his skills by working with his friend John Kendall and furthered his knowledge at Wentworth Institute of Technology. In the early 1950s, Bob built his home from the ground up with the help of his friends. Also during the 1950s, he worked for Gilbilt Garage (a pre-fab garage company) which was located in Burlington and was shown on their television ad. He built a home for his daughter as well in later years. He had his own carpentry business. It was amazing what he could do with his tools. His customers were always guaranteed to get a job done well and at a fair price.
Bob was a man of family. He was always there for each family member. He kept the family bond strong. There were family road trips to Florida, cribbage and rummy games, cook outs, family projects, and countless other activities and events that kept his family close and united. There were also trips with his wife, Ruth to Sweden, Germany, and Nova Scotia. His family learned from his actions, to be humble, kind, think of others, and always to do what is right. Bob was truly a special man, who lived a life filled with love and worth emulating.
Bob was the beloved husband of 69 years of Ruth Virginia (Anderson) Sullivan. He was the proud father and father-in-law of Richard and Cheryl Sullivan of Burlington, David and Debra Sullivan of Burlington, Susan and Jim Hanafin of Burlington, and Paul and Cindy Sullivan of Billerica. He was predeceased by his brothers Charles and Fred Sullivan. Bob was the grandfather of 18 and great-grandfather of 19.
There will be a visitation at the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn Street, Burlington on Friday, November 2 from 4-8 p.m. Funeral services will be held at the funeral home on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 11 a.m. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited. The burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Bob’s name may be made to his late grandson's scholarship fund, The Kevin D. Sullivan Scholarship Fund, care of Northern Bank, 13 Center Street, Burlington, MA 01803
Edward V. Sullivan
43 Winn Street
Burlington, MA 01803
Ph: (781) 272-0050