Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Memories of Peter "Sully" O'Sullivan

Updated July 7, 2013
Welcome to the TSF tribute page for Peter O'Sullivan, a tabloid genius whose influence at 333 was felt off and on from the late 1970s into 1999. The following comments have been gathered from Facebook, the Toronto Sun and other sources. If you have more tributes or stories to tell about Sully, email them to thecos@the-wire.com 

Peter O'Sullivan
Randy Miller 
"I was shocked to hear of the passing of Peter O'Sullivan. He was my age. I remember working with him and Ed Monteith many times on the front page. Working on the front page to Peter was not a job but a privilege. He pushed the envelope both in composing and the colour lab at the time. He was fun to work with, but he knew exactly what he wanted and expected even if it took few redoes and you had to pull it away from him to get to press. The front page to Peter was the entrance to the day's work of the whole company and you can't argue with that. I not only enjoyed working with Peter, he also made me feel an integral part of the process. He even invited me to drinks at the Press Club, how inclusive can that be? Another great paper-man gone."

Nancy Stewart
"Peter was one of those very special people who made working at The Toronto Sun a very memorable experience. He was the King of Page One layouts, and we in the Composing Room loved his passion for doing it the best. He was sincere, smart, playful and serious. Peter was one of the reasons the Golden Years at The Sun were Golden and he will be remembered very fondly."

Liz Langley 
"Peter hired me as a columnist first at the Orlando Weekly - my first writing job - then as the Toronto Sun’s “Florida Columnist,” like it was the most natural thing in the world for a Canadian paper to have a Florida columnist. He had a genius for seeing people’s strengths and giving them confidence to use the bejeezus out of them and made me feel like I could do anything. He was crazily generous, always funny, the best story teller ever and one of the most profound and positive influences I could have hoped for in my life."

Heather Mallick
"He was a smart funny man who could have taken grave exception to my promotion just before he arrived but didn't, which was generous. What I remember most about him was his kindness to people who were ill or in trouble. When I explained to him that a Sun temp was going to have to go on welfare while she was on sick leave, he arranged it so that wouldn't happen. What an extraordinary thing to do." 

Wayne Janes
"I was shocked when I heard the news. He was a very sharp tab guy, smart with a keen eye. I remember his voice, how it went up in pitch whenever he became passionate or excited about something, which was a lot. He gave me a desk to run and then left me alone. I'll never forget that. Thoughts to his family." 

Hugh Wesley
"Peter O'Sullivan was a young sharp-minded rim jockey at the Sun, who Doug Creighton recruited to direct start- up Sun papers in the States, first in Orlando and then editorially at the Houston Post, where he helped turn that paper around. He returned to become the editorial director at the Toronto Sun and while some didn't appreciate some of his decisions, he was fearless, dedicated, well respected and revered by most of those directly under his command. Memorable quote in a news meetings: "Mel Lastman may be an a..hole . . . but he's our a..hole." 

Sheila Reagan 
"Peter "Sully" O'Sullivan was a remarkable newsman and I really enjoyed it when he was at our helm. Sorry to hear of his passing. We sure had a lot of fun." 

Claire Bickley 
"When my family was dealing with the sudden, senseless death of my sister Shirley Anne, who was well loved in the Sun newsroom, Sully told me to take off as much paid time as needed, be it a week or months, and not to even think about work. Hard news man but one with a soft heart in the right place." 

Heather Bird
“He was a mentor to me tremendously, especially as a columnist when I first started (in 1979). It’s such a tremendous loss on a personal level, because he died far too young. I remember I was making $200 a week (in 1980). He dropped me off at my apartment at Queen and Sherbourne and he saw where I was living and he talked to the then-managing editor and said, ‘She’s not making enough money,’ and I got a raise to $275 and it meant I could get a better apartment.”” 

Jim Slotek 
"Sully hired me twice - first time as a proofreader when I was still in school. He could give you sh-- like nobody's business, but he knew his business." 

Les Pyette 
"I am sorry to hear the news. He was a natural newsman, an excellent tabloid editor. He could lay out a page better than most. Another old Sun soldier gone." 

Alan Cairns
"I am saddened to learn that Peter passed away at such a young age. I personally found Sully to be a decent and caring man. RIP Sully." 

Steve Payne 
"Peter and Bob Vezina were the two people who gave me a job at the Toronto Sun and Peter helped with the immigration department which could have insisted I go back to England and wait for permission to take the position."

Frank Morrison
"Sad day! Peter was a good man. We had many laughs in the composing room." 

Linda A. Fox
"When Sully was managing editor he was always fair with me. I really liked the guy. He gave me a shot at being the arts writer for Showcase, not a role the Sun upstairs brass cared greatly about that is for sure. He was also a lot of fun and had a wicked sense of humour. I am stunned by this news, this and Bryan Cantley in one week. Very sad for the news world."

Sandra Macklin
"OMG. I'm so shocked, shaken."

Ian Harvey
"Wow. There were two people whose names were verbs in the newsroom. Has this story been Shanoffed? I just got Sullied. All joking side, I was there for both his eras. Intense guy. I'll always remember his detachment at the Management Buyout. "We bought the paper back!" people said. "Don't for one second make that mistake," Sully said. "We didn't buy anything. They did." Turns out he was right. They did. And then they sold it to Quebecor. And that's where the story starts to die." 

John Schenk
"So young."

John Cosway
"Always felt Peter wanted to take the Toronto Sun where management didn't want to go - to the gates of the British tabloids. It was always a joy watching him work the newsroom. He was focused, dedicated and proud of his eye-catching front pages. He was at the helm the night John Lennon was murdered in 1980 and the British import gave Sun readers a front page to frame. When you talk of the glory years of the Sun, Sully was a key player." 

Glenn Garnett
“He was energetic and demanding, fairly exploding with ideas. He was cheeky and profane, but I also found him shy and self-effacing. He was one of the great editors and personalities of this place and he was generous with his guidance.” 

Bill Sandford
"I . . . recall the night they blew up Litton Systems in Etobicoke. Home grown activists were demonstrating their dislike of the Canadian company building cruise missle guidance systems, and took out the front of the building in October 1982. I was able to get into the scene, got a good photo of the destruction before the police closed it down for investigation. Sully was particularly pleased with the photo that he front paged that night, and back before deadline to boot."

James Wallace
"He’s fondly remembered as a great tab editor by many members of the Sun family.” 

Rachel Sa
 "Very sad to read this news."


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