ELIZABETH—John Bradley Sullivan (Sully), 80, of Elizabeth, passed away Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, at Mercy One hospital in Dubuque Iowa.
A private Mass for immediate family only will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Stockton. John will be laid to rest with full military rites at the Holy Cross Catholic cemetery immediately following Mass.
John was born May 29, 1940, in Stockton. He was one of 10 children born to Philip and Leonilla (Carroll) Sullivan. He lived in Stockton throughout his childhood until he graduated from Stockton High School in 1958.
After high school, John met his love, his confidant and soul mate and his rock, June Ann (Webster) Sullivan. He enlisted in the Army on April 15, 1959, and shortly thereafter, John and June were married on June 27. John embraced patriotism and achieved the rank of E-4 before being honorably discharged on Feb. 6, 1961.
After completion of his military service, John returned to Stockton for one year until relocating to Platteville, Wis., where he began his career as a full time meat cutter for Dicks Supermarket. During his seven years in Platteville, he learned more of the meat cutting trade and other valuable tools for success. Most significant was how important it is to be fair to your employees, vendors, and his customers.
In September 1967, John and June moved to Savanna where they purchased their own grocery store, previously under the banner Sullivan's Super Valu, and now known as Sullivan's Foods. He went on to expand his stores, at highest count a total of 16 grocery stores and two Ben Franklin's, quite an achievement as an Independent grocer.
John was successful in expanding because he was an entrepreneur, a visionary man before his time, and an innovator of change. He was one of the first to introduce scanners at the checkout, and to operate 24 hours a day. His marketing skills netted him a world record as he merchandised the largest Pabst Blue Ribbon beer display.
Although John's work ethic was endless, he was also very civic minded and a faithful citizen to his community and his trade. He always felt it important to give back to his community.
His volunteer services included being an active member and President of the Savanna Chamber of Commerce, member of the Savanna School Board of Education, President of Savanna Hospital Board for 10 years, Honorary Fireman (both Savanna and Platteville), he helped establish the Savanna Ambulance Department, Chairman of the Local Redevelopment Authority at the Savanna Army Depot, Knights of Columbus 4th degree, an active member of his church serving on his church council, a member of the American Legion, Moose, VFW and The Elks. Within his trade, he served as a board member of the National Grocers Association, President of the Illinois Food Retailers Association, and in 2006 he was honored with the highest recognition as Illinois Grocer of the Year.
It should be noted, he was also a member of the Savanna Rotary Club on three separate occasions, but was kicked out of the club because he couldn't make the weekly lunch meetings — John was simply too busy gearing up for truckload meat sales, coordinating produce tent sales, preparing Customer Appreciation days or even scrubbing floors!
Despite being a successful businessman, John would acknowledge his greatest accomplishment was his family. Together John and June were family oriented raising six wonderful children. He was a family man, with a loving heart, an iron rule and an Irish spirit. John loved spending time with his family, whether it be on the Mississippi River, traveling the United States loaded up in a motor home, or perhaps the most memorable, a trip of lifetime to Ireland with his full entourage of children and grandchildren by his side.
Outside of his children, John also enjoyed time and conversation with his siblings, as long as it wasn't about politics! He also enjoyed his trips with his many friends whether it be fishing in Canada, hunting, rafting or jeeping in Colorado, or his annual Wisconsin motorcycle adventures. But his ultimate paradise was his time spent with June on their farm in Derinda.
As John would say, "I think I've said enough, it's time to get back to work!"
John will be forever missed by his wife, June Sullivan of Elizabeth; six children, Kathryn (Steven) Christensen of Savanna, Scott (Jeanie) Sullivan of Savanna, Bryan (Christine) Sullivan of Savanna, Susan (Kent) Dauphin of Elizabeth, John Michael (Jennifer) Sullivan of Savanna, and Julie (Andrew) Mensendike of Stockton; 16 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; eight siblings, Philip (Mona Lisa) Sullivan, Judy Doherty, Peggy (Richard) Magee, Ann Testa, Stephen (JoAn) Sullivan, Jim (Deb) Sullivan, Kelly (Doug) Dawson and Mary Stanton; and in addition, many nieces and nephews.
John was preceded in death by his parents, Philip and Leonilla; and one sister, Colleen McNett.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.hermannfuneralhome.com.
Due to the pandemic, there will be a celebration of life announced at a later date.