James E. (Jim) Sullivan, 88, passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 8, while holding the hand of his loving wife of 65 years, Dena Croft Sullivan.
A native of Dickson, James is also survived by his daughter, Madena Harrington (Tim); grandson Luke Harrington (Tarah), and granddaughter Lacy Harrington, along with his great-grandchildren, Ella Moon, Ezra Croft, and Hadley Grace. He leaves his sisters: Rose Ann Sullivan, Bessie Larkins (Gale), and Faye Dickson (Jimmy), along with brothers J.C. Sullivan (Delema) and Jeff Sullivan (Kathy). Also, surviving is his brother-in-law: Hartsell Croft (Rachel), and many nieces and nephews.
James was an advocate of education because he knew it would open doors and build a solid foundation for success. He was educated in the schools of Dickson County, graduating from William James High School in 1952. He earned a bachelor of science in agriculture (1956) and a master of science in chemistry and administration (1961) from Middle Tennessee State University.
His academic life included service as a football coach, chemistry teacher, and Dickson High School principal before becoming the Superintendent of Dickson County Schools from 1967 to 1984, where he was known as “the brick-and-mortar man of county schools,” according to the Dickson County Heritage Book. His straightforward message to students was simple but life-changing: “Be where you are supposed to be, do what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it, and you will not get in trouble with me.”
James was elected to the Tennessee State Senate in 1974, where he served as Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee. He sponsored and passed legislation that enabled every Tennessee POW veteran to receive a permanent POW license plate. In addition, he sponsored and passed a bill that improved state programs for challenged children, along with other legislation to improve educational programs for teachers and students.
James was also a successful businessman, a visionary for Dickson County development, and a farmer. However, his family and Foxcroft Farm were his priorities.
He was preceded in death by his father Joseph Sullivan, mother Era Christine Estes Sullivan, brother Michael Sullivan, and an infant brother.
An open-air celebration of life will take place for family and friends at Foxcroft Farm, 305 Fairview Road, Dickson, on August 22 at 4:00 p.m. To honor the life of James Sullivan, donations may be made to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and Shriner’s Children’s Hospital.