Deceased October 27, 2019

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In Memory

I was browsing in the Jeff bookstore freshman year when this big stranger wrapped me in a bear hug from behind and demanded, “You’re coming out for wrestling, aren’t you.” He waited to let go until I gave him an affirmative response. Our rough and playful friendship has been lifelong.

Rich was the most beautiful wrestler I ever saw. Explosive, powerful, graceful. He was New England champion, could have been national champion had he gone to Oklahoma or Penn State, but an Amherst education was his priority. 

After a Ph.D. in English at Rutgers, Sully taught and coached at Friends Academy on Long Island, N.Y., for his entire career. He was proud of what Amherst taught him, and he passed it on. A video his students sent him after he was diagnosed with cancer confirmed how much they loved Dr. Sullivan. He will live inside generations of men and women.

Sully had a sharp mind, a playful dry wit and a rebellious intellect that would take an opposing view, especially when it was not popular. In retirement, he kept active hiking and participating in reading groups. He loved to research and present his findings. Always a teacher.

What I remember most fondly is the way he spoke about his children. He clearly loved them, saw who they were and admired each of them for the unique way they moved in the world. Betsy and Rich built a great family.

During his illness, Rich had the courage to reach out to friends. On our last conversation, he did not say goodbye. The big bear that wrapped his arms around me 55 years ago said the three words I had never heard him say before.

I love you, too, Rich. I hope we will have one more afternoon in the Amherst wrestling room.

Larry Lincoln ’68

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