"Tim" to all his friends was a trusted friend as well as the very "symbol" of Bear Mountain State Park's vast woodlands in New York State. Personally, I am grateful for the ability to have worked with him during my years at Palisades Interstate Park, New York.
He was both a friend and a supervisor whom I held the greatest respect for. He joins now others of his "ilk" who have gone before and will forever leave an indelible mark on all who knew him. We are all that much more fortunate, that is the "legacy of Tim Sullivan". In the fire-fighting community he was a mentor and one of its greatest supporters. For the Forest Fire Lookout Association, Tim was a annual member starting with the New Jersey Chapter many years ago, this basically for his support of Sterling Fire Tower, which for many years, partnered with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service in detection operations in the Region. With Tim's help and support, this 90+ year-old fire tower was able to be operated in the Highlands area as one of New York's "last of the lookouts". In that venue, it may be said to include Ranger Sullivan now in that category, he indeed was one of "last of the lookouts" and it's unlikely his kind will be seen again.
Attending many of the Forest Fire Lookout Association's local conferences, Tim could be counted on to deliver a stirring monologue of sage wisdom for all present. I personally attended many annual "fire cooperator events" with him at National Park meetings, and always looked forward to stopping someplace for a deli lunch on the road afterwards.
A proponent of early fire detection, he tried his best to champion the keeping of area fire towers, often fighting an unyielding bureaucracy that cut funding and budgets, and the red tape that goes along with it. At Sterling Fire Tower, I often used radio communications to keep in contact with him on fire scenes and about approaching weather fronts.
A U.S. Marine Corp veteran of World War II and Guadalcanal, Tim commanded respect from all who knew him, ever ready for a laugh also he was a rarity for being a supervisor to others. He was one of those "rare items' that come only every so often and will be sorely missed by all his friends. Trying to shake off the effects of old age, he outlasted many others for his longevity on the job, but finally the rigors of daily work took their toll; unwillingly he finally retired, not entirely of his own free will, but that of nature.
Pictured above is Chief Ranger Tim Sullivan in his office at Bear Mountain, NY holding one of the aluminum "pointers" he had reproduced to use in the Park's fire towers, many of them long gone. The patch boards on the wall were made by Dave Quam who one time lived in Bellvale, NY. His desk was a constant clutter of maps and outdoor magazines, and his phone, it seemed, never stopped ringing with questions from people about hiking trails and other forestry items. In later years, Tim would say his hobby was "hiking." In his 60+ years of working for the State, he covered every inch of Bear Mountain State Park's vast forests and could rattle off the names of every hiking trail, many that he blazed himself.
Ranger Sullivan's love of the woods and his job as Chief Ranger were legendary; with over sixty years as a New York State employee, that says it all. I am personally very sad to hear of his passing, I have lost a friend, and the mountains of his home have also. What more can be said that is not deeply heart-felt, a silent lament, but also a deep sense of gratefulness for having shared some of his knowledge and time. As years pass, we will all often remember his sayings, his wit, and other stories. Bear Mountain's shadow will cast a gray hue over those mountains that Tim loved and worked in; his memory will always remain at Palisades Interstate Park. He is as much a part of the land now as he was in life. Good wishes to all of us who knew him as I end with one of his favorite wit sayings, "Good deal!" ... Indeed, it was, Tim.