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WATERLOO — Longtime Waterloo Courier sports writer Jim Sullivan passed away early Friday of a massive heart attack.
Sullivan, 61, of Waterloo, was an icon in Northeast Iowa sports coverage, working at The Courier for more than three decades.
Sully, as he was known, was working the sports copy desk late Thursday and had just put the finishing touches on Friday’s sports pages when he was stricken.
“Words are our livelihood at The Courier, but there simply aren’t any to express the sense of loss we are feeling today,” said Courier Sports Editor Doug Newhoff. “Sully was an icon and an institution in our business who touched thousands of lives throughout the Cedar Valley, across the state and in our sports department with his wisdom, his wit and his gift for writing. He was the definition of a top-notch sports writer, as well as a beloved husband, father and friend.
“We worked together for 32 years. The void he leaves behind can never be filled.”
Sullivan, or “Sully” as he was known in the newsroom and to friends, joined The Courier staff in January 1984, was a native of Two Harbors, Minn., a graduate of the University of Minnesota, was sports editor at the Mesabi Daily News in Virginia, Minn. and worked at the Freeport, Ill. Journal-Standard before coming to the Courier.
At the Courier Sullivan covered the entire gamut of Northeast Iowa and Iowa collegiate sports, including high schools, University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University athletics.
For many years he wrote a weekly column, “The Sully Side of Sports,” in which he used his wit and humor to relay tales of the history and significance of athletes and coaches he worked with throughout his long career — and threw in a tale or two about growing up in his hometown. He also was a frequent halftime guest and commentator on broadcasts by longtime UNI Panther athletics announcer Gary Rima.
As a sports journalist, Sullivan was about more than box scores. He won numerous awards for his enterprise and investigative journalism from the Iowa Newspaper Association and the Iowa Associated Press Managing Editors, either individually or working with a team of colleagues, providing guidance as one of the senior members of the sports and news staff. Coverage ranged from a 2006 series on the decline at that time of metro high-school athletic success to a 2008 series about a lack of minority athletes in softball and baseball.
Our thoughts are with his wife, Kim, and son, Pete. Funeral arrangements are pending.