OBITUARY: John Dennis ‘Sully’ Sullivan

John Dennis “Sully” Sullivan was born on July 4, 1966, and raised in Marblehead. He passed away following an accident on July 22 surrounded by his family and loved ones.

John Dennis received his B.A. from Regis College in Denver, Colorado, in 1988; his MBA from Northeastern University in 1992; his Master of Arts in History from Harvard University; and his Ph.D. in Law, Policy & Society in 2000 from Northeastern University.  He started his corporate career at Putnam Investments and W.R. Grace in Boston, and co-founded Reliant Renal Care. He then transitioned to academia at Boston University and was assistant dean for partnerships and student success, as well as an associate professor of administrative sciences, and former chair of the Department of Administrative Sciences.
During his time at BU, he taught graduate and undergraduate courses, both in Boston and internationally, and mentored students on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, investments and financial markets through his dual appointment at the Law School. Throughout his academic career, he was also recognized for his expertise in business development of renal dialysis facilities that care for patients with end-stage renal disease (kidney failure) and providing consulting expertise for mergers and acquisitions relevant to this field. He was a fellow for the Department of State. He authored many business books and articles and was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

An avid sports fan, he regularly played tennis and paddle tennis and was a member of the Eastern Yacht Club. His favorite sporting event was the annual Beanpot, and one of his happiest memories was when his favorite team, Northeastern University, won the beanpot for the first time in 30 years. John Dennis lived life to the fullest, including his telling of humorous stories, following the books of Nelson DeMille and his love of sailing. He was also a member of the Clover Club and involved with the development of the Marblehead Community Charter Public School.

He loved going with his father and his son to science fiction movies; his favorite being the Star Trek series. Being born on the Fourth of July, his parents, John and Barbara, always told him as a young boy that the fireworks were meant especially for him to celebrate his birthday. He always enjoyed his favorite homemade Oreo cheesecake on his birthday, celebrating with his family and parents every year. He was dedicated to his children John and Kiki – they were the loves of his life, and they will sorely miss their father. He always coached their baseball and softball leagues, and was an active family man, often bringing them to Disney movies such as “Up” and “WALL-E” and crafting Halloween costumes like a Thomas the Tank Engine suit for John. He took his family on many adventurous sailing trips to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, playing his favorite Jimmy Buffet CDs.  

Devoted to family, he is survived by his parents, John and Barbara Sullivan of Brooksby Village, Peabody, and his two children, John F. Sullivan and Kiersten (Kiki) Sullivan with his former wife Holly Sullivan of Beverly Farms, and his sister Elizabeth Titus & her husband Robert Titus of Marblehead; nephews Sean M. Sweeney, Jr. of Wakefield and Charles C. Sweeney of Marblehead, and adopted brother, as well as cousin Dr. Peter Schlegel and his wife Samantha Pfeifer of New York, New York; and all his close cousins (and spouses, where appropriate): Deborah DeBenedictis (Antonio) of West Roxbury; Mary Giuliana (Christopher) of Reading; Peter McIntyre of Miami, Florida; James McIntyre (Michelle) of  Nashville, Tennessee; Anne Herzog (William) of Wakefield; Kara Hardiman (Edward) of Danvers; David McIntyre (Judy) of Franklin; James Leahy (Noreen) of Lynbrook, New York; Judith Leahy (Judy) of Gastonia, North Carolina; Patrick Leahy (Mary) of Phoenix, Arizona; Thomas Leahy of Danvers; Terence Leahy (Lisa) of N. Attleboro; Brendan Leahy (Jennifer) of Athens, Georgia. At the time of his passing, he was engaged to be married to Mary Theresa Gray of Marblehead.

In memory of John Dennis, we ask that donations be considered to Northeastern University in his name or St. John’s Preparatory School, 72 Spring St., Danvers 01923, online at The wake will be held Friday, August 4, 4 p.m.-8 p.m., at Murphy’s Funeral Home, 85 Federal St. Salem. Services will be held Saturday, August 5, 10 a.m.,  at the St. John’s Prep Chapel in Danvers. For more information or online guestbook, please visit or call 978-744-0497.

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