Paul James Sullivan

Retired Bridge Engineer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Marine Veteran of W.W. II

Paul James Sullivan, 86, passed away on Thursday January 10th at Brigham & Women’s hospital surrounded by his loving family. He is survived by his wife and companion of 40 years Toby Pearlstein and his son Mark Sullivan and his wife Linda of Easton, MA and daughter Paula Sullivan and her husband Scott Berna of Sailboat Scherzo. He was the loving and proud grandfather of Connor G. and Kelsey W. Sullivan and brother-in-law of Jerry Pearlstein and his wife Cathryn MacInnes. Paul was born in Stoneham, MA the son of the late John J. and Gertrude D. Sullivan and brother of the late John Francis and Ralph Thomas. He was also the cherished uncle of Thomas and Mary Ellen Sullivan, Daniel Sullivan, John and Darlene Sullivan, Eileen and Paul Duggan and Mary and Donald Foster, Alex Pearlstein and Abbie Pearlstein and many grand-nieces and nephews. Paul was a Professional Engineer and a lifelong and proud public employee and union member. His career at the Massachusetts Highway Department included instituting and leading the first Quality Control Program for Bridge Erection in the Commonwealth, a program that became a model for other states, and he rose to the position of Bridge Engineer before his retirement. His contributions to the safety of the riding public were recognized when he became the first public official ever to receive the American Road & Transportation Builder’s Association prestigious “Life Time Achievement Award” and they did not stop with his retirement as he devoted many voluntary hours to the American Welding Society towards the development of welding standards and procedures for aluminum and steel. He was a tireless advocate for his fellow workers and became President of then Local 780 of A.F.S.C.M.E. In his personal life Paul was a true renaissance man. As a young man he played the clarinet in the Holy Name Society of West Roxbury Marching Band among others. He was a builder of model trains and a painter of esoteric subjects. At his beloved Maine summer home he was a gentleman farmer of rocks and a connoisseur of fine farm equipment. He believed strongly in the value of life long learning and earned a Bachelor’s degree and multiple Master’s degrees in Political Science, Urban Planning, and Education from UMass/Boston, Boston State College and Rutgers University. He had a generous and giving heart and was a mentor to many. Paul joined the Marines at 16 serving in the South Pacific during W.W. II. He was a life-long member of the DAV and a strong supporter of our veterans. A celebration of Paul’s life will be held at the Maguire Chapel at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in West Roxbury, MA on Friday January 18th at 10:00 am with interment to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the N.E. Center for Homeless Veterans, 17 Court St., Boston, MA. To share remembrances please visit the online guest book at


Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.

12 Condolences

  1. Karen & Paul Diamond on January 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Mark, Linda, Connor & Kelsey,

    You are in our hearts and prayers. May your dad rest in peace and always be in your memory. It is so nice to read all about your dad and all his wonderful parts of his life. We will always remember him in your yard with you.
    Our love, Karen & Paul

  2. Mark Tucker on January 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Though I never met Paul (and only spoke briefly with him once via the phone), I know how much his son Mark loved and respected his father (Paul) dearly. Knowing Mark, Paul’s spirit will exude proudly from his son’s soul, toward all those Mark encounters-forever.

    Mark Tucker 1/15/13

  3. Jean Mellett on January 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with Mark and his family at this very difficult time.

  4. Susan Godman Rager on January 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Paul was an extraordinary person whose many talents and great intellect benefitted all who were privileged to know him. Sincere sympathy to Toby and to his entire family. His enthusiasm for life and his sense of adventure belied his advancing years. What a way to be remembered! Condolences to all.

  5. Hardy Campbell on January 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    So long, Paul. You were a great guy to know in our brief AWS get togethers. You will be missed back here in “The World” but I can already see you gearing up for a debate with St. Peter about the welding quality of those pearly gates. Reserve a seat for me at that big D1 meeting in the sky!

  6. Ed Beck on January 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Paul was a positive influence on my life as well as many others; he will be missed. May we all strive to leave this world a better place as Paul did with an unselfish and loving heart.

  7. Ray Minor on January 18, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Toby, I am very saddened by Paul’s passing. He was a great person and will be missed by many. I enjoyed participating with him on the AWS committee. Susie and I very much appreciate the time we spent at your place in Maine. That area has become one of our favorite places in the country.

    Ray Minor

  8. Kris Pedersen (on behalf of Carl Pedersen) on January 18, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    My grandfather, Carl Pedersen, would like to express his sincere condolences to Toby and the family for their loss. He was very close to Paul, working together as they did, and he will be missed.

  9. Lacy Collins on January 19, 2013 at 1:37 am

    My condolences and best wishes for Paul’s family and many friends. Paul was a dear friend and colleague. It was a pleasure to serve with Paul on the Structural Welding Committee where he was the consumate professional. His wise council and his friendship were valued by all.

  10. Frank Armao on January 19, 2013 at 2:51 am

    I knew Paul for over 20 years both professionally and as a friend. Over those years my respect and admiration for him grew steadily. I think you only meet a few people of Paul’s caliber in a lifetine. Now he is gone, but he will not be forgotten. I will always have many fond memories of him. Toby, my sincere sympathies go out to you and your family

  11. Sandy Tucker on January 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Dear Toby,

    I send my deepest sympathy to you and your family on the loss of your wonderful husband. The obituary tells a fine story. I especially enjoyed reading about Paul’s career as a bridge engineer.

    Sandy Tucker

  12. Beth Pearlstein Golden on February 23, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Just heard that Paul passed away. So sorry for your loss. It must be very difficult for you to lose someone you loved and had in your life for over 40 years. Our deepest sympathies to you, Paul’s children and grandchildren. Keep his memory alive the way we keep the memory of Grampy and Grammy and all the Pearlsteins/Swerlings that have passed on.
    David Golden, Beth Pearlstein-Golden and family

Leave a Condolence