Cover photo for Michael Dean Sullivan's Obituary
Michael Dean Sullivan Profile Photo
1947 Michael 2024

Michael Dean Sullivan

April 10, 1947 — March 22, 2024

Key Largo

Michael Dean Sullivan 76, a beloved husband, father, brother, and grandfather, passed away at his home in Key Largo after a courageous battle with lung cancer from 2020 until 2024. He was surrounded by his loving family as he peacefully departed on March 22, 2024.

Born on April 10, 1947, in Danville, IL, Michael led a fulfilling life dedicated to his family and those around him. Throughout his journey, he touched the hearts of many with his kindness, generosity, and unwavering love.

Michael is survived by his devoted wife, Ruth Marie Claypool Sullivan, who stood by his side through thick and thin. He also leaves behind his children Cary Gene Zigler of Thousand Oaks, CA; Sean Patrick Sullivan of Los Angeles, CA; Jennifer Michelle Sullivan of Danville, IL; and Van Patrick Sullivan of Key Largo. Michael's memory will be cherished by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren who brought him immense joy and pride.

In the company of angels now are Michael's parents Claude Ray Sullivan Jr and Shirley Evelyn Davis, his brother Jamie Hutson, as well as grandsons Josh and Dustin Zigler. Although they may have bid farewell on Earth, their spirits will forever live on in the hearts of those who loved them deeply.

Among those mourning Michael's loss are his brothers Michael Edward Hutson, Bob (Juanita) Hutson, Joe (Rita) Hutson, Jeff (Judy) Hutson; sisters Karla (Mike) Story, Rhonda (Wayne) Mayland, Anna (Ronnie) Young; along with numerous relatives and friends.

At 17 years old, Mike joined the Navy reserves.  Just after graduating from Danville High School Class of 1966, he went on his first tour of Vietnam.  After returning for a brief stay at home and for more training, he went back for his second tour in Vietnam. 

In 1970, Mike became a firefighter for the Danville Fire Department for 14 years.  During this time, he became the President of the Firefighters Union in Danville and was a lobbyist for the AFL-CIO for 6 years.  

After a few years together, Mike and Ruth Claypool married in 1984, moved to Key Largo and purchased "Smilin' Island Houseboat Rentals", which they owned and operated for 15 years. While living in the Florida Keys, they both became active in the American Legion Post 333 in Key Largo, where Mike became the commander of the post for 3 years and worked his way up to state level.

Upon selling the houseboat charter business, Mike and Ruth returned to their hometown of Danville and purchased "The Friendly Tavern" and remained owners for nearly 20 years.  During this time, Mike was diagnosed with head, neck, throat cancer in 2011.  After successful treatments, the cancer went into remission, though it affected his strength and health from then on.  

Mike and Ruth sold the Friendly Tavern in 2018 to return to their peaceful place Key Largo to retire.  Mike again faced a challenge being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2020.  With heavy treatments, a remarkable team of doctors, endurance and the will to keep fighting, Mike lived through his failing health for over 3 years before he succumbed to his death. 

I am proud to have been the wife of this man who had many challenges in his life beginning at childhood and never gave up.  He fought many battles of many kinds that life throws at us only to survive with more wisdom and a sense of humor to be admired. 

Michaels last accomplishment was taking in his 6-week-old grandchild.  After his first battle with cancer, he was told he was looking at 5 years, give or take. Van was only 1 year at the time and Mike's goal was to see him enter kindergarten.  Van is now in 8th grade, so you see, Mike was a true warrior and fought hard. 

Micheal was loved by many family and friends alike and he loved right back.  He had a special love for his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and spent precious time looking at pictures these final years to feel close to them.  To all you siblings, nieces, nephews and cousins, he had a special place in his heart for each of you.  

In his last 5 years, Mike opened his heart to God and asked for forgiveness from any wrong doings, and realized how blessed he has been.  He wanted to thank you all for the unsurmountable memories to reminisce over that filled in the long days, weeks, months and years through his struggling days.  He will be missed every day and yes with his loss, I am sad as I realize that The Price of Love is Grief.  

A Memorial Service to celebrate Michael Dean Sullivan's life will be held at the American Legion Post 333 in Key Largo on April 7, 2024. The service will begin at 1:00 PM to honor a remarkable soul who graced this world with compassion and grace. Let us come together to remember a man whose legacy will endure through the memories he created with each person whose life he touched.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Michael Dean Sullivan, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Sunday, April 7, 2024

1:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

American Legion Post 333

2 Seagate Blvd, Key Largo, FL 33037

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