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2602 South Houston Avenue
Humble, TX 77396
Phone: 281-441-2171
Fax: 281-441-1445
Michael Sullivan
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Obituary for Michael Francis Sullivan

Michael Francis Sullivan was born in Manhattan, New York on January 7th, 1935 to Bridget “Bertha” Lee and Jeremiah “John” Sullivan, natives of Ireland who immigrated to the United States and arrived through Ellis Island in the early 1920’s. Mike grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Northern Manhattan with his younger sister, Marie, with whom he maintained a close bond his entire life. Like many boys who grew up in The Heights, “Sully,” as he was affectionately called, spent countless hours playing stickball and roller hockey in the streets, often dodging trolley cars and buses in the process. Michael attended P.S. 189 where he excelled academically from an early age and became a voracious reader, a quality that he most surely inherited from his fiercely independent and well-read mother.
Mike’s children and grandchildren all share the memory of him sitting in the den with the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal held in his outstretched arms. They quickly learned that one of the best ways to get some quality time with him was to tap gently on the newspaper and ask him to read you a book – all the better if the book was about history of any kind. He placed a high value on education and never missed an opportunity to encourage his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to pursue their diverse interests and studies, wherever those passions might lead them.
Mike’s captivating smile and warm hazel eyes were not only the hallmarks of his good looks, they were also his superpower. When he looked at you, he actually saw you, and when you spoke, he truly listened; and, when he shared a laugh with you, which was often, all was right with the world. What really defined any interaction with Mike was his generosity of spirit, his dry sense of humor, and sharp wit, all of which endeared him to those who knew him. While he knew many people in the broader community, he made it a point to maintain close relationships with just a handful of lifelong friends, most of whom he met while growing up in New York City. He attended George Washington High School where he was admitted into the Arista honors society and received a Regents Scholarship which he used to attend Columbia University upon his graduation in 1952.
During his years at Columbia, he would often steal away to meet his father for lunch and a chat in the Architecture building, where his father was the facilities manager, a tradition they shared for several years during Mike’s undergraduate and graduate school years. Mike matriculated from Columbia College in 1956 and graduated from Columbia Business School in 1959 with degrees in Economics and Finance.
While Mike was passionate about ice hockey and maintained a lifelong loyalty to the New York Rangers, that passion for his chosen sports team paled in comparison to the passionate devotion he had to the love of his life, Ida Jean Putignano, of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, whom he affectionately called his “bride” for the better part of 65 years. Mike and Ida met while working together in the accounting department at New York Life Insurance Company where they shared responsibility for over 200 accounts. Mike was assigned the accounts A-K and Ida was in charge of L-Z, a genuine meet-cute. They were married on August 29th,1959 and immediately started building their large family of seven. Together, they made a formidable team. Ida was the loving force that kept things operating at home like a well-oiled machine and dad was the glue that held the family together. He consistently put the needs of others above his own and lived his life for his family. Mike was Ida’s rock and her hero. She truly and deeply adored him. Wherever they were living, she always made it her mission to create a home that was a haven for him.
Following graduation from Columbia in 1959, Mike worked for three years directly reporting to the Chief Economist of Allied Chemical Corporation on lower Broadway, an experience that shaped his career trajectory. He joined Shell Oil Company in its New York Head Office in the then RCA Building in 1962. He subsequently served in a number of financial assignments in Houston, New Orleans and Northern California–all with his young, growing family in tow – not always an easy proposition. All of his children remember the “family meetings” at which yet another move would be announced. Dad had a way of making it sound like an adventure, a new horizon awaiting discovery, and when he was done talking we were all usually on board with whatever he was proposing to our crew.
Mike was appointed Corporate Controller of Shell Oil Company in 1985 and remained with Shell for a total of 32 years until his retirement in 1994. He formed many long standing friendships while at Shell and was a deeply respected mentor to many co-workers who served on his teams. Over the years and the many relocations for work, a Shell Oil “family of friends” formed that sustained them all through moves to various cities simultaneously, which culminated in a final move back to Houston’s head office in 1977. In fact, his son, Danny’s, marriage to Geralyn Kelly in 1990 was a direct result of close ties shared by five Shell Oil families–the Austin, Carroll, Kelly, Sullivan, and Westigard clans – who, in effect, “grew up” together sharing memorable Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations over the years.
Mike served as chairman of the Financial Executives Institute from 1991-1993. While at Shell, he was also a member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board and was instrumental in bringing about standardization in accounting for oil & gas producing activities, which affected the industry as a whole – an achievement he was proud of and a challenge he relished.
One of the most salient features of Mike’s character was his calm, selfless nature and the fact that he rarely, if ever, complained. He set out to find the best in the people around him. In fact, he made it a point to draw attention to the qualities that made each person unique. He made sure that the people in his life knew that they mattered to him and that their contributions were valued. This was true at work and at home.
Mike was brilliant at balancing his professional and family life. When he was home, he was truly present and he basked in the company of his family and did not balk too much at the challenges presented by his big, loud, and sometimes messy family life. He, the mostly reserved Irishman, and Ida, his more outgoing, Italian bride, were inseparable. They shared a vast and deep common ground based on strength, love and loyalty. Their faith in God being their source for these guiding principles. In their free time, they loved watching classic films together and listening to the Big Band era music of the late 30’s and mid-40’s, such as the Glenn Miller & Count Basie Orchestras. Mike & Ida traveled together extensively, often with his sister, Marie & husband, Chase Lichtenstein. The two couples were very close and shared a passion for travel, enjoying live theater and concert performances together whenever they had the opportunity.
As much as Mike & Ida loved to travel and see the world, they were always eager to return to Kingwood, Texas, where they truly felt at home. They meaningfully contributed to their community in countless ways over the course of five decades. Over the years, Mike served as treasurer on several local charity boards and on his local MUD Board in Conroe where they had their lakehouse, a favorite getaway spot for weekends spent with their children and grandchildren. He also served as a Deacon at Second Baptist Church in Kingwood for many years and led Bible study fellowship classes with Ida in both Conroe and Kingwood. Their church family was an important part of their lives, a source of community and fellowship, which they treasured and enjoyed participating in together.
Michael is survived by his loving wife, Ida, his five children and their spouses: Anthony & Marcy Sullivan of Houston; Peter & Diamanee Sullivan of Houston; Daniel & Geralyn Sullivan of Kingwood; Jean Sullivan & Mark Duncan of Bowie; and Mary Sullivan Casas & Greg Casas of Austin. He is also survived by his 15 grandchildren and their spouses: Christina Sullivan Barrera & Vidal Barrera of New Caney; Deanna Sullivan Horstman & Jeremy Horstman of Warner Robins, GA; Lloyd “Colby” Ayles of Midland; Brittany Derbigny of Spring; Chase Borgstedt of Spring; Rebecca Pardo of Patchogue, NY; Kelly Sullivan McGriff & TJ McGriff of Spring; Michael P. Sullivan of Kingwood; Isabella Bivona of Denton; Cortney Duncan Brack & Shay Brack of Orange; Nicole Duncan Jones & Collin Jones of Denison; Claudia Duncan and Anglela Duncan of Bartlett, TN; Madeline Casas of Paris, France and William Casas of Durham, NC; He is further survived by his 18 great-grandchildren: Vincent and Carmello Barrera; Victoria, Jeremy, and Olivia Horstman; Anna, Ella, Jude, and Owen Ayles; Miles, Ava, and Aeson Derbigny; Mallory and Rylan Brack; Ansley and Skylar Jones; and Harper and Riley McGriff. He was proud of them all.

The family would like to sincerely thank Dad’s caregivers: Allissa, Moré, Susan; and, his hospice RNs, Charles and Kristina, all of whom made his last months and days comfortable and peaceful. A very special thank you to Lori Coldiron, Mom & Dad’s loyal housekeeper and assistant for over 20 years, who is like a daughter to them.

In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made in Mike’s honor to the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation to advance the study of Chacot-Marie-Tooth disease or to the charity of your choice.

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