Ryan Sullivan, of Baker City, formerly of Plymouth, Massachusetts made his last cackling laugh on November 29, 2017 on a fishing trip with his long time friend in Troy, Oregon. That unforgettable snicker may or may not have been about Ryan’s final “catch,” which didn’t quite measure up. Regardless of the size of that last fish, Ryan still had a small child’s excitement about reeling in that 4 inch minnow. This is one great example of how Sully lived for those small moments. He enjoyed a well made fire, wearing board shorts, and imitating the call of a bald eagle. He shared his love of hiking, fishing, wilderness, shooting, and sports with his family and friends. We know that he went peacefully as the Pats have been winning lately.
Ryan was born in San Pedro, California on December 3, 1979 to Heather Lynn Sullivan and Edward Francis Sullivan. He was the oldest son of five children, and spent his childhood growing up in the woods near a pond in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He looked back to his childhood with fond memories of fishing, running through the woods with his younger siblings and friends, and of course setting up the common trip wire. Sully grew up playing a variety of sports: karate, basketball, baseball, but football was his favorite. He graduated from Plymouth South High School, where he made lasting friendships and memories.
After high school Ryan joined the Navy. He was on an aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson and was stationed in Bremerton, WA. During his time of service he was deployed to the Northern Arabian Sea following the 9/11 attacks for Operation Southern Watch and then Operation Enduring Freedom. It is from the USS Carl Vinson that they launched the first air strike on October 7, 2001 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The ship earned the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. This aircraft carrier was also used in the movie, “Behind Enemy Lines,” starring Owen Wilson. If you watch the movie you may see Ryan in the background amongst the crew.
Sully met some amazing people during this time of his life. These friendships brought him to the West Coast after he completed his service to our country. He spent the following summer traveling through Europe, and then moved to Portland, Oregon to live with military buddies. In 2005, Ryan took a summer job with Greyback Forestry in Eastern Oregon. It is here that he met his future wife, Nicole Butler, and rather than going back to Portland decided that he would stay in La Grande and work for Greyback. He fought fire for Greyback for several years, made lasting friendships, and sought out some of the best fishing spots in the state. In 2006 Ryan and Nicole moved to Australia to travel, explore, work, and surf. When they returned in 2007, they moved to Baker City and purchased their first home.
Ryan began working for the US Forest Service in 2011, a job that frequently took him into the wilderness he loved. In 2012 he welcomed his first son into the world, Declan Francis Sullivan. Nicole and Ryan were officially married in 2014 in Costa Rica, taking Declan on his first international trip, and Jack David Sullivan arrived in 2016. The family looks forward to the arrival of their third in 2018. We are devastated that Ryan won’t be able to meet his youngest, as he was a dedicated, loving father. Ryan lived to share his life and passions with his children; they were truly his greatest joy.
He is survived by his wife Nicole Sullivan, children Declan, Jack, and No. 3; grandmother Anne Sullivan, mother Heather Sullivan, father Edward Sullivan; sisters Jade, Kate, Brooks, and brother, Jack Sullivan; in laws Kevin, Corinna, RaeAnn, Jesse Butler, and Mike Schiel. He is also survived by hundreds of beloved aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
Ryan was a rare combination of someone who had a love of life and a firm understanding of what was important - the simplicity of living a life with those you love.
In lieu of flowers, Ryan would rather you pay an open bar tab. If it is more your style, you can donate to his boys’ memorial fund at Banner Bank. Please add personal stories that you shared with Sully to the online Google doc, this will get bound into a book and passed to his two boys, and the one on the way. The link to the Google document will be posted on Ryan's obituary page at www.grayswestco.com
A celebration of Ryan's life will be held at 1:00 PM Saturday, December 9th at the First Church of the Nazarene, 1250 Hughes Lane, Baker City. A reception will follow at the Family Life Center.
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