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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Jim O'Sullivan

On occasion, former colleagues read this blog. For those who remember Jim O'Sullivan, I am saddened to pass along his obituary:

James L. O’Sullivan, retired Foreign Service officer, retired Head of the Political Science Department at the University of Louisville (KY) died at the Connecticut Hospice Center in Branford CT on Tuesday April 10, 2012. O’Sullivan was born on October 23, 1916. He attended Orange Center School (Orange CT) and Hillhouse High School (New Haven) and Canterbury School in New Milford before attending Williams College (AB 1938) studying economics and receiving a letter in golf. In addition, one of the things Jim was most proud of was his receiving the Eagle Scout medal in 1933 as a member of Derby ’s Troop 3. He served in the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service from 1942 until 1971. In 1945 he served in the American Embassy in Chungking , China after an adventuresome ride over the Hump in a C-140. He met Chang Kai-Shek and Chou-en-Lai and other important figures while there. He then continued on to Hanoi where he served from spring of 1946 until December 1947, observing Ho Chi Minh and the conflict with the French colonial forces as the only American official in northern Indochina.
Following those early years he served in Rome , Tunisia , Brazzaville , Congo , Kinshasa Congo/Zaire, Djakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney , Australia. Jim joined the faculty at the University of Louisville in 1967 as a visiting Diplomat in Residence. Following his final posting to Australia as the Consul General in Sydney (1968-1971) he returned to Louisville and joined the political science department. He served as head of the department from 1974-1977. He was an active member of the faculty senate and served on the Athletics Committee and as the faculty representative to the NCAA committee. Jim was the 1st recipient of the Minerva Award for the University of Louisville . Jim was an avid and excellent golfer, playing nearly to the last day of his life. He was a life member of the Royal Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur and won championships in Italy , Tunisia as well as being a renowned player in Louisville and on courses across Connecticut . He was also a life member of the Oronoque Country Club. Jim was very active at the Oronoque Village Condominium and served as an officer on the board of OVCA. Jim is survived by step-son Robert Hilgendorff of Fairfield, CT and step-daughters Katherine Blanchard of Oxford, NH and Jane Huggins of Altamont, NY as well as step-grandchildren Stevens, Emily, Jeffrey and Andrew. Additional survivors are his brother Robert and family, ( Lakewood CO ), and sister Patricia ( Orange CT ), Jeff, John, Kathy, Patrick and David, children of his brother Thomas and his friends and acquaintances in Oronoque Village , especially his friend Myrtie Hall. He was predeceased by his first wife, Eleanor Goode (d. 1977) and his second wife, Jean Fraser Hilgendorff (d 2008). A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, April 14,2012 at 10:00 AM Directly at St. Margaret Mary Roman Catholic Church, Shelton, with father Chris Samele officiating. Interment will follow in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Stratford . Friends may greet the family on Friday, April 13, 2012 from 3 to 7 pm at the Dennis & D’Arcy – Abriola & Kelemen Funeral Home, 2611 Main Street Stratford . For online condolences please visit In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are requested for the Community Soup Kitchen, 84 Broadway in New Haven Ct (06511).
Jim would have been 96 years old this October, so he certainly lived a long and productive life. I'm not sure of the last time I saw him -- perhaps when he was in town to accept the University's Minerva award. At the ceremony honoring Jim, I sat directly behind Denny Crum.

In the early 1990s, Jim used to warn everyone about the possibility of future disorder in China -- perhaps a return to the brutal politics of the warlord era. He and I had several discussions about "gender norming" in the State Department. And he wanted  outsiders to realize that Kentucky farmers are incredibly dependent upon marijuana as a cash crop.

One last memory shared by others: Jim used to trounce various junior colleagues in racquet sports -- he repeatedly challenged me to play, but I declined.

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