Eagle Feathers #72 –The Pipes, The Pipes Are Calling
By Bob (Monty) Doherty
Patrick J. Sullivan, Jr. was laid to rest two weeks ago on February 4, 2015. He dedicated thirty-eight years of his life to the people of Somerville, Massachusetts. He was a decorated firefighter due to the many rescues he attempted and/or completed during his long career.
Like many firefighters, he often put his own life at risk in exchange for the safety of others. This spirit of devotion to people existed not only in his professional career, but bridged into his personal life as well.
Some say, “Time is money,” and the inference is don’t waste it unless you are financially compensated. This was foreign to Patty, who volunteered thousands of hours to the needy, mostly in helping the Little Sisters of the Poor on Highland Avenue. He followed in his father’s footsteps in becoming an accomplished bagpiper, volunteering his services from parties and parades, to inaugurations, retirements, and fire department functions. On Sunday afternoons, in the spring and summer, he would practice playing the pipes at the Winter Hill Fire Station, which entertained many listeners at Foss Park.
While on the fire department, his history encapsulated operating ladder trucks, pumps, hose wagons, and virtually all other aspects of firefighting. For many years he served as President of the Somerville Firefighter’s Union.
Patty was a people person. Never put off by appearances, he would help the sick, the injured or the homeless with complete abandon to his own safety. He had a knack for finding something good in everyone and would show his Irish by referring to them as “Good Ole Sorts.” To Pat, if you were in need, then you were in need; and the stories about him helping the needy are endless. The new Harris Park on Cross Street East is named after a young boy who fell through the ice near a Route #93 construction site. Patty, while at that incident, and dove continuously until he retrieved the boy, which sadly, was too late.
Pat had a full career. He experienced first hand the heart-wrenching losses at fires and emergencies and also sustained injuries throughout the years. He was symbolic of many firefighters who would not give an inch in a political or philosophical fight but would not think twice to risk his life to save a fellow citizen. The City of Somerville recognized his volunteerism on a memorial totem at Somerville Avenue’s Conway Park.
We are sure he would have approved the dozen bagpipers who performed at his funeral. To honor him, one would best use his own words, which he applied to almost everyone. Patty, you will always be remembered as a “Good Ole Sort!”