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Sullivan, Parks, Wheeler, & Hawkins

Rev. Donald Parks Sullivan (1937-2013)

Biographical sketch (authored by himself in July, 2007):

The Reverend Donald Parks Sullivan is the third son of Joseph Albert Sullivan and Mary Ewing Parks. He was born June 20th, 1937, in Minneapolis where his father, a career army officer, was stationed looking after the National Guard. Six months later, the family moved to Fort Lewis in Washington state.

In 1941 as his father was 'deployed' into WW2 Don and brother Bob and their mother were deposited in Bakersfield, California where Mary's sister Louise Banes resided. Summers were spent in Balboa Island, south of Los Angeles. They moved north to Seattle for a couple of years in the mid 1940's where both Bob and older brother Joseph were attending the University of Washington.

Mary and Don moved back to Bakersfield where Don was actually able to attend a single high school (East Bakersfield Hi) through graduation. (Joe and Bob moved a lot.) During the summer between his Junior and Senior years the family home in Bakersfield was sold and Mary decided she would not return to Bakersfield. She had purchased a home on Balboa Island. Don's desire to finish school with his classmates meant he moved back to Bakersfield by himself during his Senior year and stayed with friends. In December of 1954 he joined the US Navy reserve to insure he would be eligible for the GI bill for college. After graduation he returned to Balboa Island and with little notice joined the regular navy on what was known as a 'kiddy cruise' meaning that if you joined before your 18th birthday you would be released on your 21st birthday.

The navy time was 'lite' as we were between wars. After boot camp he attended electronics school at the Great Lakes Navel Training Center and qualified as a gun fire control technician. Upon graduation he was sent to the USS Rowe DD-564 sailing out of Norfolk, Virginia where he spent two years cruising in the Mediterranean in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter. It was a hard life.

Discharged in June of 1955 Don had a leisurely return from Norfolk, by way of New England and visits with his father's family and other friends from the Navy. In the fall he began a 2 year AA degree at Orange Coast Community College in Costa Mesa, California, taking all the lower division classes necessary for a bachelor's degree which he then pursued at San Francisco State College.

From 1960-62, he majored in Radio/TV at San Francisco State College. He found a job with the local NBC radio station instituting one of the first traffic reports on radio and being the brunt of bad jokes by the morning DJ. After the first semester of the senior year, he quit and went to work with said DJ, KNBC radio personality Doug Pledger, traveling the west coast syndicating Doug's various shows. Next he went to work for Decca Records doing promotion for Decca and Universal pictures.

By 1964 he was DJ-ing for KFOG in San Francisco, but gave that up when he discovered that radio sales were more lucrative. He worked with several major ad agencies on behalf of KFOG and other Kaiser Broadcasting stations. Then he was lured back to Decca Records with a promise of more money to call on radio stations with various artists as a promotion man for Decca and Universal Pictures. These artists ran the gamut from Brenda Lee to Red Foley to Ricky Nelson and Andre Segovia. After this stint at Decca, he went back to sales with KPEN. While he was there, the station changed its call-letters to K101. The job ended when the station had a change of ownership.

For a year or so, he worked for Blake Moffat and Towne, a printing paper company in San Francisco. He called on the same ad agencies that he worked with in the radio business. This company also thought he would do well in sales and planned to move him to Stockton. That city wasn't as appealing as San Francisco, so Don looked for something else.

From 1973-75, he worked with a friend restoring Victorian homes in San Francisco.

In the mean time he had become involved with St. John's Episcopal Church in the Mission District of San Francisco. It was a small struggling church at that time. The priest was an old friend he had met while the priest was still in seminary. Having been invited to a Sunday service just to read a lesson and be a familiar face it was not long before he became deeply involved with 'saving' the parish. They connived a grant from the federal government to start a tutoring center (which just celebrated it's 35th anniversary) using conscientious objectors for staff. With more involvement at St. John's there was less time for work. The Episcopal Franciscans had been part of the group working at St. John's and it somehow seemed a logical transition.

In 1975 he joined the Society of Saint Francis. The first stop was the Little Portion Friary on Long Island where he spent his novitiate learning why he had become a friar. Then on to a friary in Yonkers to work with senior citizens. Back to the west coast when the Society moved him to El Rancho del Obispo in Healdsburg, California; he did construction and maintenance at the conference center and other facilities. A year in Trinidad, 7 miles from the Venezuela coast, found him working in an inner city parish and assisting in church stuff. Again at Little Portion, he converted a garage into a chapel that was used for several years. About this time he acted as the hospice partner for Br. Paul during his final year with bone cancer. He also looked after Fr. Joseph (Claude Crookston), founder of the community, during his final year of life (1978-79).

In September of 1983, soon after Fr. Joseph's death, he began at the General Theological Seminary in New York City. He attended as a "non degree fulltime student" completing all necessary course work for a Masters in Divinity. Some years later, he discovered that the GTS had actually conferred a Master's degree. After ordination, he first worked as curate (assistant) at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Lake Ronkonkoma, Long Island, NY. In 1989, he moved to St. Elizabeth's Friary in Brooklyn, where he served as guardian until he left the Society of Saint Francis in 1991. While at St. Elizabeth's he also did Sunday supply work at various parishes on Long Island and was the Senior Chaplain at Goldwater Memorial Hospital on Roosevelt Island in the middle of the East River.

It became clear to him that his vocation was to the parish priesthood during this time. This is not generally possible as a member of the Franciscan community so he asked to be dispensed from his vows.

Wanting to be back in California he called Bishop Swing, then bishop of California who assured him of a job upon his return. Two weeks after arriving he was called to be Interim Vicar from July 1992 to December 1992 at Holy Family Episcopal Church, Half Moon Bay, California. When they called their next Vicar he went first as Interim and then Vicar from December 1992 to June 2000 at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, San Lorenzo, California.

During regular visits to Miami, Florida staying with old friends who were very active in the church it was suggested that rather than traveling all this way to visit his brother Bob who lived on the west coast in Ft. Meyers that he should seek employment in Miami. After a good visit with the bishop of Southeast Florida and a couple of interviews he was called to be Rector of St. Faith's Episcopal Church and School in what is now Cutler Bay, Florida, from July 2000 to present.


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