Frank Victor Sullivan was born on March 5, 1931, in Wichita, Kansas, to Frank Townsend Sullivan and Olive Knisley Sullivan. He died on Aug. 1, 2021, at home. Victor was a twin, premature and weighing only two pounds. The other twin did not survive, and therefore Victor received the name he used for the rest of his life. He grew up as an only child, but with the constant companionship of his many first cousins, he was never lonely.
Victor was a college professor, a raconteur, a wood-worker, a world traveler, a craftsman, a photographer, a pilot, and a man who loved to sing.
Growing up in Wichita, the city of flight, he became enamored of planes early on, but it wasn’t until 1968 that he was able to take flying lessons and earn his private pilot’s license. He and his wife Mary-Kate went on to build a lightweight Vari-Eze plane in their living room, which he flew for more than 40 hours before it was permanently grounded. You can read more about his adventures in his essay in the book “Adventures in Flight,” edited by his brother-in-law Ken Larson.
As a teen, he was a founding member of an Eagle Explorer Boy Scout troop known as the Mi-ka-na-mids, which studied Native American history and culture. He remained friends with many of his fellow Scouts for the rest of his life.
Victor met Mary-Kate Larson in Greeley, Colo., where he was attending graduate school at the University of Northern Colorado. They became acquainted through the local United Methodist Youth Group, and were staunch supporters of the church throughout his life. They married in 1956 and moved to Wichita, where Victor began his teaching career and they began their family with their son, Mark Kenneth Sullivan, now of Houston. In 1962, the little family moved to Urbana, Ill., where Victor received his doctorate of education at the University of Illinois, and their daughter, Olive Louise Sullivan, was born. From there they moved to Pittsburg, Kan., where they made their permanent home, building a house that Victor designed and that Mary-Kate still lives in.
Victor began teaching at Kansas State Teachers College, now Pittsburg State University, in the industrial arts program. He ended his career in 1998 as Dean of the new College of Technology, in the Kansas Technology Center which he was instrumental in designing, funding, and building. The courtyard of the center is named in his honor. During his tenure at PSU, he was important in the founding of the Paraguay Partners program that became the basis for Pittsburg’s international studies program. In addition to traveling to Paraguay, he taught as a visiting professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and at the University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. As a member of Phi Delta Kappa, an honorary educational fraternity, he led trips around the world, visiting Germany, China, Italy, France, Russia, and several other countries.
After retirement, he and Mary-Kate continued to travel, driving through 49 of the 50 states and most of Canada, and touring the Galapagos Islands in South America. They traveled part of the Appalachian Trail. Victor was an avid wildlife photographer and supported the National Wildlife Foundation as well as serving as a board member of the Kansas chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
In addition to his many hobbies, Victor loved to sing and was a member of the First United Methodist Church choir for many years. With the choir, he and Mary-Kate traveled to England. He was also the song leader for his Sunrise Rotary Group, and delighted in teaching them “Newfie” folk songs as well as singing the old standards.
Victor lived a good life; he was a genuinely kind person. Many people in Pittsburg have stories about Victor, although not all will be told with his smile and flair.
He is survived by his wife, Mary-Kate Sullivan, of Pittsburg, his son Mark Sullivan of Houston, and his daughter, Olive Sullivan of Pittsburg, as well as grandchildren Frank Abshire (Angel) of Pittsburg and Jacob (Patricia) Abshire of Aurora, Colo., and eight great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Aug. 17, 2021, at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Pittsburg. Memorial donations may be made to The Nature Conservancy and/or P.S.U. Scholarship Fund. These may be left at Arrangements are under the direction of the Brenner Mortuary, 114 E. 4th St., Pittsburg, KS.
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