Obituary: Labor lobbyist, college hoops star John F. 'Jack' Sullivan dies at 75

OBIT 1/5/57 John F.
OBIT 1/5/57 John F. "Jack" Sullivan - Mt. St. mary's College. File Photo MANDATORY CREDIT: Baltimore Examiner and Washington Examiner OUTOBIT 1/5/57 John F. "Jack" Sullivan - Mt. St. mary's College. File Photo MANDATORY CREDIT: Baltimore Examiner and Washington Examiner OUT (Baltimore Sun)
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By Lauren Wiseman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 13, 2010; 10:13 PM

John F. "Jack" Sullivan, 75, a retired labor lobbyist who as a young man was a college basketball star and Secret Service agent, died Sept. 16 at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore of respiratory failure due to septic shock.

Mr. Sullivan, a native Washingtonian, was a standout athlete at his high school but rose to regional prominence while playing basketball in the 1950s for what is now Mount St. Mary's University, a Catholic college in Emmitsburg, Md. He remains the college's all-time leading scorer.

As a 6-foot-4 forward, he scored 2,672 points during his career and holds 11 career and single-season records, including field goals and free throws attempted and made.

From 1953 to 1957, he averaged 25.4 points per game - still a school record - and 11.6 rebounds, which ranks fourth all time at Mount St. Mary's. During his senior year, he scored 1,070 points for an average of 33.4 points a game, the highest one-season mark in school history. He led the team to a 27-5 record and a spot in the NCAA College Division II Final Four.

During the tournament, he scored 185 points in five games, setting an NCAA Division II record.

When he graduated from college in 1957, Mr. Sullivan was the 14th overall pick in the NBA draft, selected by the Philadelphia Warriors. A year later, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, where he earned a spot on the elite all-Service Team and became the "most valuable hoopster in the Marine Corps," the Baltimore Sun reported at the time.

He was named to the Amateur Athletic Union's all-American team in 1959 and was selected as an alternate on the 1960 U.S. Olympic team. In 1961, he returned to professional basketball when he played for the Washington Tapers in the fledgling American Basketball Association.

Soon afterward, Mr. Sullivan became a special agent with the Secret Service. He was assigned to the Boston Field Office and, according to his family, was stationed at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

After a few years, he returned to his home town to coach the boys' varsity basketball team at Gonzaga College High School. From 1979 to 1987, he coached at the Academy of the Holy Name, a girls' high school in Silver Spring.

His labor career began in 1981 as director of government relations to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. When he retired in 1996, he was a lobbyist for what was then the Center to Protect Workers' Rights, the research and development institute of the Building and Construction Trades Department, which is part of the AFL-CIO.

John Francis Sullivan was born July 27, 1935, and was a 1953 graduate of St. Anthony's High School in the District.

From 1989 to 1996, he coached the women's basketball team at Catholic University. In 1991, he was named coach of the year by the Capital Athletic Conference.

When his children were young, he coached basketball for the Catholic Youth Organization. He was an Adelphi resident.

Survivors include his wife of 49 years, the former Patricia "Tish" Dailey of Adelphi; six children, Timothy Sullivan of Potomac, John F. Sullivan Jr. of Clarksville, Maureen McTavish and Patricia Quinn, both of Mount Airy, Michael D. Sullivan of Adelphi and Edward F. Sullivan of Severna Park; a brother, Charles J. Sullivan Jr. of Severna Park; two sisters, Rosemary McLaughlin of Seattle and Ellen Arrascada of Reno, Nev.; and 15 grandchildren.

The Baltimore Sun contributed to this report.

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