The Putnam Examiner

Hundreds Attend Funeral for Sullivan Family Members Lost In House Fire

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Jimmy Sullivan Jr.
Tommy Sullivan Jr., surrounded by extended family and friends, cradles a policeman's cap outside of St. James the Apostle Church in Carmel where funeral services were held for his father, mother and two younger sisters.

Hundreds and hundreds of family members, friends, elected officials, members of myriad police and fire departments and other mourners attended the funeral services for Thomas Sr., Donna, Meaghan and Mairead Sullivan held at St. James the Apostle Catholic Church in the Hamlet of Carmel on Saturday morning.

Among them was 20-year-old Tommy Sullivan Jr. who was the only member of his family to escape the fire that broke out in the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 1 when he heard the screams from his father that the house was on fire and to get out.

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, who is an old friend of the Sullivan family, confirmed that during the funeral service a family member who spoke said that Tommy Jr. had fulfilled his father’s final wish by making it out alive.

The usually bustling Gleneida Avenue was shut down on Saturday morning. The ladders from two Village of Larchmont fire engines, where Sullivan was a captain with the police department, held an American flag that was draped over the avenue. More than 100 representatives from police and fire departments from all over the lower Hudson Valley lined up along the avenue next to Lake Gleneida in silence as a motorcade drove by shepherding mourners to the church.

As the motorcade arrived, bagpipers outside of the church played, “Irish Soldier Boy” – the only sound amid total silence.

Larchmont Police Chief John Poleway, who was accompanied by the entire Larchmont Police Department, delivered the eulogy for his second in command, Capt. Sullivan. On Tuesday, during a press conference Chief Poleway described the policeman, husband and father.

“Words escape me. I knew him for 18 years professionally. He was always a man full of integrity, honesty, a family man. Very dedicated to both his job and his family. He certainly is going to be missed,” Chief Poleway said.

County Executive Odell said the chief’s eulogy was, “not only a tribute to a fellow officer, but to a brother.”

Donna’s nephew spoke lovingly of his aunt and a cousin memorialized the two teenage Sullivan daughters, Meaghan and Mairead.

Also in attendance were Village of Larchmont Mayor Anne McAndrews, many of Donna’s colleauges from Arms Acres, where she worked for the past 10 years, and Carmel Town Supervisor Kenneth Schmitt.

After the family members’ wake services on Thursday, May 3, Mayor McAndrews spoke about Capt. Sullivan, who had served with the village police department for 18 years.

“He was a big-hearted fellow. He totally enjoyed being a policeman. He was the face of the department,” the mayor said. “His shoes are big and they are a lot to fill. This is a hard thing for us to get our arms around…the community is hurting.”

Mayor McAndrews said that a constant stream of flowers arrived throughout the week, sent in memory of the lost and beloved policeman.

“He came out of the community policing program in New York City,” she said of Capt. Sullivan. “It fit beautifully. Our motto is: ‘Serve With Concern.’ That fit him like a glove.”

Arms Acres Chief Executive Officer Patrice Wallace-Moore spoke about Donna Sullivan after having attended the wake, too.

“We are grateful for the time we shared with Donna,” Wallace-Moore said about the staff at Arms Acres who were devastated by the news that their colleague had perished in the house fire.

Donna had worked at the facility for the past nine years as a medical transcriptionist and just this December had been promoted to intake coordinator, working face-to-face with patients.

Wallace-Moore said she was excellent at her job. Even so, family always came first.

“People talk about hobbies at work. Donna’s hobby was her family,” she said of how Sullivan loved to tell her co-workers about her husband and their children and the family’s dogs. “She was the consummate family woman.”

Carmel Town Supervisor Kenneth Schmitt, who was at the scene of the fire on Tuesday, May 1, morning to night, with County Executive Odell, opened the Town Board meeting last week in memory of the four family members who perished.

“It’s a devastating tragedy. This community mourns the loss of the Sullivan family,” Supervisor Schmitt said, noting the work Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan had done to bring recreational activities and facilities to the Hamlet of Carmel.

Putnam County Executive Odell, Mayor McAndrews, Wallace-Moore, Supervisor Schmitt and anyone and everyone who spoke about the devastating loss of the four Sullivans all said the community must rally around Tommy Jr. to help him through this time of unimaginable grief.

Among those were Tommy Jr.’s former classmates from Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers, of which he is a member of the Class of 2010. Many of them left college this week and returned home to support their friend, including Eric Dinome.

“It’s hard to see a friend struggle like that. I hope Tom knows we are there for him,” Dinome said following the funeral.

That sentiment was echoed by Kennedy Catholic spokesperson Alex Malecki, who also said that a prayer service held on Wednesday at the school’s chapel was filled to capacity.

“Right now, I’m praying for Tommy; for the road he has ahead of him and that God gives him the strength to handle that road,” Malecki said.

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