in memoriam

In Memory of William (Bill) Sullivan

April 24, 1936 – June 9, 2023

headshot Tommy Kelly (left) and William “Bill” Sullivan (right).

William "Bill" Sullivan was born to William and Anne Sullivan on April 24, 1936, in Queens, New York. After high school, he traveled the world as a Merchant Marine. Bill then served in the United States Air Force at the tail end of the Korean War. After his military service, he met and married the love of his life, Carol. They had 5 children and resided on Long Island.

He worked as a Senior Construction Inspector for the Port Authority of NY & NJ, beginning in 1968 with helping to build the World Trade Center as a Welding Inspector using his skill in ultra-sonic technology. Bill spent his career working at the World Trade Center until he retired in 1996. He contributed to many of the large projects during his season at the WTC, overseeing many portions of the jobs as a Senior Construction Inspector. Among them were the installation of the Towers’ window washing system, the erection of its antennas, the flagpoles on the plaza, the building of the Millenium Hotel, as well as the massive reconstruction effort in repairing the damage done in the tragic 1993 bombing. During that fateful day he was able to heroically restart a stalled elevator and help 16 passengers and himself to safety as the smoke billowed throughout the building. He personally knew the victims that died that day.  

He would tell many of his stories from his time at the WTC to his children and grandchildren. He retained great amount of detail and specs of the Towers deep into his latter years.  Among the more exciting narratives he told were the day he and some of his colleagues were tasked with the PAPD in getting Phillip Pettit off his highwire as he was suspended between the Towers in 1974. He and his co-workers were thus depicted in the now famous tight rope scene in the cinematic reproduction of that day called “The Walk”. Another was the “nutcase” follow-up act in 1977 (as he would call it!) when they were called upon with PAPD to get George Willig (a.k.a. ”The Human Fly”) off the side of the top of the South Tower having climbed all the way up from the street level.

He loved his work and his co-workers at the WTC. Like so many, his heart was pained with sadness at what came to pass on 9/11. He lost many personal friends that day, including his “informal protégé” Frank De Martini who has been memorialized with Carlos Ortiz in the documentary “Heroes of the 88th Floor”.

During his retirement, he served in the Coast Guard Auxiliary on Long Island, ultimately rising to the rank of Flotilla Commander.

Bill eventually moved to Sebastian, Florida, in 2012. He was a member of St. Sebastian’s Catholic Church. He served the church as a Lector and Eucharistic minister. Bill took great delight in his grandchildren, Meghan, Patrick, Shannon, Vance, Jason, Joseph, Vincent, and Abbagael.

Bill passed away peacefully in the presence of his family on June 9th, 2023. He was laid to rest in St. John’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens, NY.

Bill is survived by his daughters, Kathy (Rich) O’Brien, Patricia (Jason) Lupo, and sons Billy and Jim (Patti) Sullivan. He was preceded in death by his wife Carol, son Kevin, his parents, brother Thomas, and sisters Nancy and Betty.