February 26, 1932 – J. F. O’Sullivan Had Active Life

The death of John F. O’Sullivan, former representative from Derby to the General Assembly and owner of Island Park, notice of which was carried in these columns last night, came as a surprise to many people in this city, Shelton, and Ansonia, where Mr. O’Sullivan was exceedingly well known. It is true that Mr. O’Sullivan had been ailing for a considerable period of time, but throughout his long illness he had exhibited remarkable recuperative powers that carried him through some of the several serious attacks of his ailment. There were at times when he was at death’s door, but he rallied and was even able to be up and about although for the past two years he had seldom been down the street.

Mr. O’Sullivan succumbed yesterday afternoon at 12:30 o’clock. His long ailment had taken a toll of strength and vitality which had rendered him unable to cope with the fatal attack. He had been in critical condition for the past several days and on Thursday grew steadily weaker until the end came. Most people, although aware that Mr. O’Sullivan was seriously ill, nevertheless were greatly surprised when the news of his death became known and there were many expressions of regret together with those of sympathy for his family.

Had Many Friends

The deceased was a man of many pleasing traits and had a wide circle of acquaintances in this and the surrounding cities. He made friends easily and retained them. He had his own ideas about matters and, as to those involving public questions, he did not hesitative to express them. He was a man of high character and devoted to his family. His work was such, during his career, that he was brought constantly in touch with the people and all spoke very well of him. As a newspaperman, a businessman, insurance agent, representative in the General Assembly, and finally, as the promoter of sports and amusements at Island Park he had been more or less in public life through his many years of activity.

A Good Newspaperman

Mr. O’Sullivan was engaged in newspaper work in this city for about five years. He was a member of the reportorial staff of The Evening Sentinel and previously had worked in a similar capacity for the Derby Transcript, which has long since gone out of existence. Mr. O’Sullivan was engaged in newspaper work at a time when Charles C. Jump, former Mayor Alfred F. Howe, the late James W. Reilly and Frederick W. James and Mayor Michael J. Cook, the only one of the group presently engaged in newspaper work, were actively engaged as editors and reporters. Mr. O’Sullivan was an exceptionally good newspaperman and had an intimate knowledge of what was going on in the years he was engaged in news writing.

Developed Island Park

Mr. O’Sullivan, a number of years ago, conceived the idea of establishing a public amusement place on the island at the end of Caroline Street, which has since become Island Park. To him alone is due the credit for the changes that have taken place there. The process was slow, discouraging, and at times burdensome, but Mr. O’Sullivan worked unceasingly with the purpose in mind of turning the island into a public park. He acquired possession of the island and sought to interest others in its development. Over several years he worked to carry out his plans, and, at length, was successful in having a road built from the end of Caroline Street  connecting with the island. Much of this work he did with his own hands and under the greatest difficulties the new road passed under the trestle and, at the time, the railroad company was not any too anxious to grant its permission. At length, the connecting road was finished and Mr. O’Sullivan then commenced the task of trying to interest people in a public park. A racetrack was built on one part of the island and several driving races were held there. The lower part of the island he transformed into a field for baseball and football and this became known as O’Sullivan Field. The difficulties which beset Mr. O’Sullivan’s efforts continued even after he had constructed  the road to the island and had laid out time and money to make the island a public park. During the past few years, however, the island has increased in popularity and is now the playing field for most of the leading baseball and football teams of the city besides being used for the same purpose by the Derby High School teams. It was Mr. O’Sullivan’s purpose to make the island a public park along the lines of the old Housatonic Park, but financial support was lacking, and he was content during the last few years to rent the island to traveling carnivals and athletic teams.

Active in Politics

Mr. O’Sullivan was active in politics for many years and was a prominent figure at democratic party gatherings. For years he acted as secretary at local caucuses and conventions and in 1924 he was elected to represent the city in the General Assembly. He served in the session in 1925.

Born in Baltic

Mr. O’Sullivan was born in Baltic, in the town of Sprague. He was the son of the late Dennis O’Sullivan and Catherine O’Donovan O’Sullivan. His father came to this country as an attach√© of the British consulate in Boston where he remained for a few years before going to Baltic. Mr. O’Sullivan attended the grade schools in Baltic and later entered the Holy Family Academy there, but did not complete his course of instruction owing to the fact that the family moved to Shelton.

After serving as a newspaper reporter, Mr. O’Sullivan joined the New York Grocery Store as a clerk and in a few years became manager of the business which was then located in the store now occupied by Carl Dektor’s shoe store on Main Street.

Mr. O’Sullivan was connected with the roller skating rink on First Street, in the years in which roller skating was at the height of popularity. He was associated with William Maltby, a trick bicycle rider. Mr. O’Sullivan became proficient as a fancy roller skater and with Mr. Maltby he went about the country giving exhibitions.

He was married in Baltimore to Miss Mary Bain, who survives him together with two sons, Dennis O’Sullivan, district manager for Logan Brothers’ stores, and Dr. John Reynolds O’Sullivan of New Jersey.

Leaving the New York Grocery Store, Mr. O’Sullivan joined the agency staff of the Prudential Life Insurance Company and was engaged in this business for about 20 years until his retirement because of ill health several years ago.

The funeral will take place tomorrow from his late residence at 75 Cottage Street at 8:30 o’clock and at St. Mary’s Church at 9 o’clock. Internment will be in Mt. St. Peter’s cemetery.