Cover photo for Walter  Robert Sullivan's Obituary
Walter  Robert Sullivan Profile Photo

Walter Robert Sullivan

December 26, 1942 — March 5, 2017

Walter Robert Sullivan, 74, of Summerville, Oregon, passed away Sunday, March 5, 2017 at a local care

center. He was born December 26, 1942 to Charles and Dicksie (Spencer) Sullivan in Topeka, Kansas. He was the third child of five children. At a very young age his mother passed away unexpectedly following the birth of his youngest sister. In 1944 his father married Erma Humphrey; his mother for 60 years. As a child Walt worked endlessly helping his father with numerous chores and duties of the household including delivering papers for several local newspapers. His family lived in central US for nearly 10 years; then they moved to Oklahoma City. During Walt's preteen and adolescent years, he participated in various school sports; but more so, he was bold, fearless, and sought adventure; a daredevil, too. His prevailing mode of fashion embraced the classic style of the '50's and ‘60's with the ducktail hair, Levi jean jacket, loose jeans worn below his hips and penny loafer shoes. He loved driving his '57 Chevy hardtop with black & chrome while listening to country music. Following his graduation from Harding High School in 1960, he traveled to the west coast and worked for the US Forest Service in California and attended Southern Oregon University and Oregon State University, majoring in engineering. It was during his college years that he met an intriguing and charming student, Elizabeth Sanderson, pursuing a degree in nursing at the University of Oregon School of Nursing in Portland. They were introduced through her close cousin, Dallas, who was one of Walt's roommates.

In 1967, Walt earned a degree in civil engineering. He was registered by the state of Oregon to practice as a Professional Engineer in Civil and Traffic Engineering and as a Professional Land Surveyor. He accepted his first position as Assistant Engineer with the Oregon Dept. of Highways in Pendleton. He soon was assigned as the Structural Bridge Engineer for the bridge construction on I84 between Pendleton and Stanfield including the interstate highway bridges in

La Grande. While living and working in Pendleton, he began again his admiration for Elizabeth, now a registered nurse in US Navy Corps. Later, after her discharge from the military, she returned home to Summerville and worked at St. Joseph Hospital in La Grande. They were married October 31, 1970. He kept on with his work as Assistant Bridge Engineer to include construction of the Freemont Bridge in Portland. After the completion of the Freemont Bridge, Walt held the Assistant District Engineer and District Engineer positions in Pendleton and La Grande. Moreover, he devoted his life to his family; now helping to rear his son Dallas. Throughout the course of his son's childhood years, Walt championed his accomplishments pertaining to his school projects and sports; more specifically, his long distance track events. In fact, Dallas was granted the privilege to be parented together with his father and mother. Influenced by their close connected concepts of nurturing and positive attitudes, Dallas developed into a mature, responsible adult.

For nearly 29 years, the family lived on five acres of pristine property in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon surrounded by evergreen trees, thick foliage; and herds of animals, such as deer and elk and other creatures of the forest. Walt commuted to his work in Pendleton while growing a garden in his greenhouses throughout the summer months. He enjoyed waterskiing with family and friends on weekends followed by festive barbecues. Within the winter season, he passed time pleasantly following all of the televised football games. He cared for Liz's horses; watering and feeding them in all types of inclement weather. No matter where they lived, he provided Liz with a home for her beloved horses.

With an advancement in his job, Walt assumed the Regional 5 Construction Engineer position in La Grande in 1990. He carried on his work as the primary engineer until his retirement in 1996. Elizabeth retired shortly after from her directorship of the nursing program at Blue Mt. Community College in Pendleton. With one another, they moved to the Sanderson Springs Ranch, after the newly remodeled home was completed. Since, the estate has been accepted into the National Historic Registry and approved as a Century Farm in Summerville. Of interest, Walt expressed he "would not be a farmer," but delighted in operating the large equipment required for cultivating and tilling the soil and cutting for hay.

In his retirement years, Walt carried forward his keen interest and creative abilities in a variety of his favorite hobbies; such as woodworking, attending antique events and restoring "old fashion" house furnishing and toy relics. In addition, he promoted his philanthropic ideals and became a member of the Imbler School board. He secured numerous grant monies and scholarships to update the playground equipment and services in other departments within the School District. Further, Walt adored his only grandchild, Bryce and recently welcomed Leslie and Kadyn into the family. He supported and attended their baseball, football, and wrestling games and 4H projects and at times chaperoned other school events. Walt built with great labor and care, an elaborate train layout in his shop for Bryce. Several railroad trains traveled the numerous railways with all its assets and necessary properties. Truly, another hobby they both adopted together.

Walt was a member of the American Society of Engineers, the Imbler School Board and the Imbler Education Foundation.

Walt is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, his son, Dallas and daughter-in-law Memory, grandsons, Bryce Sullivan, Leslie and Kadyn Trick, his sisters, Caroline Sullivan, Oklahoma City, Cheryl and Riley Price, Pendleton, brother, Brad and Kathy Sullivan, Oklahoma City and sister in law, Genie Mortenson, La Grande Numerous nieces, nephews and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Charles D. Sullivan.

A very special thank you is extended to the physicians and nurses of Grande Ronde Hospital, Angelina Assisted Living and Grande Ronde Hospice Care. Their sympathetic and compassionate kindness enhanced Walt's spirits and will to thrive. Also, the family expresses gratitude and gives thanks to his long term friends and professional colleagues for their everlasting support and love. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Imbler Education Foundation on his behalf.


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