Don Sullivan ’54

Not everyone has a building dedicated for him, but Don Sullivan ’54, a retired orthopaedic surgeon and former Florida State Senator, sure does. It is the new EpiCenter at St. Petersburg College. Don’s efforts as a state legislator made it possible for the college to offer baccalaureate degrees in high-need specialties.
 
The $32 million center dedicated last fall includes a Corporate Training Center, laboratories, and space for the school’s Technology Management programs, and it is home to a convention and visitors’ bureau and arts council. The Gilmour alum previously served as Vice President for Economic Development and Innovative Projects at St. Petersburg College.
 
“The most notable result was development of a teachers college, which now enrolls 1,000 new candidates for teachers’ degrees,” Don says. The program is being copied across the country and the state of Florida is building a new system of undergraduate education based on it. During a decade in the State Senate, the Gilmour alum championed charter school legislation, a bicycle helmet law, and, as appropriations chairman, obtained funding for all levels of education. He also was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2003. An article in The St. Petersburg Times noted Dr. Sullivan’s widely-regarded stature in the Capitol and recognized his professional, civic, and political credentials.
 
Today, he and his wife Bretta live in Boca Grande, Florida, a small beach community south of Sarasota. They have three children and five grandchildren. “I own and fly my own helicopter and play a lot of golf,” says Don, who is a licensed private pilot for airplanes as well. As an active board member for several organizations, he has received countless awards from the Chamber of Commerce, industry, civic groups, associations, and medical and educational groups.
 
Occasionally, Don sees fellow classmates Jim Mooney, who lives nearby, and John Mihm, who vacations in the area. The Gilmour graduate earned his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and his medical degree from Baylor University in Houston. Following his residency at Northwestern, he was in private practice in Chicago before moving to St. Petersburg in 1972, where he specialized in arthroscopic surgery.
 
Four years ago, when Don returned to Gilmour for his 50th reunion, he admitted having a hard time finding his way around campus. The visit brought back fond memories, and he enjoyed reading his old columns from the days when he was on the staff of the student newspaper. He recalls always being open to new adventures even back then. “I remember hiking through the woods nearby, conducting clandestine chemistry experiments, and trying out new activities,” he says. “All this led me to continue to enjoy the opportunities that life gives us all,” says Don, who has run in the Boston Marathon and enjoys bicycling, sailing, and scuba diving. “I never turned down a new adventure.” 
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