April 29, 1931
Don Sullivan was born to David and Ann Sullivan on April 29, 1931. He was the seventh of ten children. He had four brothers (David, Robert, Thomas and Jerry) and five sisters (Eleanor, Mary, Laura, Theresa and Rosalee).
He attended rural school in Cherry County through 8th grade and then attended Mullen High School. His dad died when he was 17 and he assumed the duties of the head of household. At the time his twin brother and sister, Jerry and Theresa, and sister Rosalee along with his mother were still at home.
After high school, Don married Virginia Boren from Halsey, Nebraska and they had four children-David, Mary Ann, Donalee and Dennis. Don and Virginia later divorced. Don later married Sherron (Clegg) Cox.
Don Sullivan is a cattleman's cowboy. Born to and raised by hardworking parents, Don was one of 10 children. When asked about his dad who died when Don was 17, he said, "Where ever he went, he took some of us with him. I was the lucky one-I got to go the most." Many of the stories about his growing up years center around working with his dad, ranching, working cattle, picking corn and working for surrounding neighbors. He is a cowboy, a father, a friend, a mentor, a shoulder to lean on and a willing ear and hand when needed.
He loved the ranching way of life. When his dad passed away he became responsible for the ranch and his family. It was a responsibility he took willingly and conscientiously. Through the years he worked other jobs so that he could do what he really loves working with cattle and horses. He was a rural mail carrier, master carpenter; block and brick layer, and worked away from home in the winter months calving north of Whitman.
All four of his children were involved in 4-H and summer Sundays were spent in horse shows from Dunning to Hyannis. But it wasn't just his four children or his grandchildren that he influenced along the way. There are many ranchers that were helped in their early years by Don or that, when looking for someone to care for their own cattle, trusted him over anyone else.
In the cattle business, as in everything he has done, there's a rhythm and grace. He can walk through a herd of cattle and there's scarcely a ripple where he has passed. No muss, no fuss. He has a dry sense of humor. He's direct, knowledgeable, thorough, caring and honest to a fault. He's as "western" as they come.
For those who know him well and have known him for years, they would know about the old Blue mare. In an article several years ago he commented, "If a man has one good horse and one good dog, he ought to be satisfied." One of his favorite stories about his favorite horse would be when the friend who was supposed to help him gather cattle to ship didn't show up. He brought two horses to the pasture and when the friend didn't show up, he started gathering the cattle from the hills with the help of his dog, Tuffy, and headed them down the valley toward the pen with 01' Blue trailing along behind them. It was a rather startling sight for the truck drivers when they arrived-a horse driving the cattle into the pen with no rider in sight!
His first and longest love is the Sandhills, the cattle and horses, family and friends. Donald is of strong moral character and a leader whether they set out to be or just naturally slid into the role.
Although Don's passion has always been ranching, he was a rural mail carrier and did carpenter work for many years building houses, barns, sheds and whatever was needed in the Hyannis to Dunning areas. He played baseball as a young adult and has articles from the Omaha World Herald about his pitching.
His walls are not lined with plaques and ribbons (well there are a few of 01' Blue's hanging around). His trophies live around him. They are in the phenomenal work ethic he exemplifies and helped to instill not only in his family but in the many that he has mentored along the way. There are in his love of the land and the creatures that inhabit it. They are the success of cattlemen, individuals, friends and professionals that he guided, assisted, taught, listened to and employed along the way. They are in the respect of his peers.