In Memoriam: Thomas Sullivan (‘51)

A single class during his time at Loras College set Thomas Sullivan (‘51) on a career path that would lead to a legal career highlighted by a battle with corruption in Chicago courts, service as U.S. Attorney under President Jimmy Carter and multiple awards for public service.

As a sophomore at Loras, Sullivan took a course on constitutional law. It would prove to spark an interest that led him to obtain a law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. After two years of service in the Army, he began what proved to be an illustrious career in law.

In 1968, he served as part of the counsel that successfully argued before the Supreme Court as part of Witherspoon v. Illinois that saw more than 350 inmates have their executions overturned.

Named United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in 1977, Sullivan took on corruption in the Cook County Court System through a sting operation called Operation Greylord that resulted in the indictments of 92 officials.

In 2003, Sullivan received the American Bar Association’s John Minor Wisdom Award for his contributions to public service and the community.One year later, he was named Chicago Lawyer magazine’s Person of the Year. In 2007, he received The American Lawyer’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sullivan passed away in his home in Willmete, Ill. on May 18. He was 91.

The New York Times published a comprehensive obituary to mark his passing. You can read the full article here.

About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2020, Loras was ranked the 16th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine for the fourth consecutive year. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 12th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).