Kevin J. Sullivan
May 19, 1941 - January 28, 2021 Resident of Palo Alto, California
Kevin Sullivan succumbed to COVID-19 at 79 years of age. A beloved family man and successful executive, Kevin led a life and career centered around positivity, progress, and inclusion.
Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the youngest of four children and a nephew raised by David J. Sullivan, Sr. and Irene Shannahan Sullivan, Kevin attended St. Augustine’s Grammar School and Fairfield Prep. After a short stint as a football kicker at the University of Dayton and completing a degree at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, Kevin worked as a stage manager and occasional actor in Miami and on and off Broadway in New York. Later, he returned to college and graduated from Columbia University School of General Studies in 1969.
Ultimately, Kevin sought new professions and further education at Wesleyan University, where he earned an M.A. in philosophy. While not an obvious trajectory for financial security, Kevin always remarked that learning how to think clearly and logically enhances problem solving ability in any endeavor.
This mantra steered him through many strata in human resources (HR), from Pitney-Bowes in Stamford, CT to Raytheon in Waltham, MA to Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in Maynard, MA and then to Apple Computer in Cupertino, CA. All along the way, he ensured inclusion of marginalized people—people of color, being honored by JET magazine for his work in the Black corporate community; LBGTQ employees, for whom he assured benefits for partners in the early 1990s; and women-he created flex-hours for parents before there was such a thing and designed and instituted at Apple perhaps the first ever corporate child-care center in the U.S. Before retiring to financial “angel” endeavors, he was a head of HR at Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco.
Interwoven with his professional life was his rich family life. Kevin married his next-door neighbor, Edith (Edie) Anne Vioni on August 28, 1968. Their 52-year marriage produced two sons, Ted, a television writer and producer in Los Angeles, CA and Paul, a special needs teacher in South Pasadena, CA. School and work afforded numerous moves between Connecticut and Massachusetts with the greatest adventure for the four of them—a 2-year transfer with DEC to Geneva, Switzerland, providing extensive opportunities for family explorations and skiing throughout Europe. The move to California in 1987 to work in HR for Apple was permanent. The summer house on Fairfield Beach, CT, a remaining tie to New England, was a centerpiece for his entire family—his two sons, 15 nieces and nephews and their families, and an endless stream of friends of all ages who dubbed him “Big Kev.” An avid golfer, Kevin was a member of the Weston (MA) Country Club, Brooklawn (CT) Country Club, Palo Alto Hills (CA) Country Club, and the Old Course at St. Andrews (Scotland)and a regular participant in their member guest tournaments.
An ardent music fan, Kevin shared his knowledge and passion with his family and friends through vinyl, CDs, and live performances. The Beatles, Supertramp, Elton John, Randy Newman were constants in his rotation, along with Mozart, Schubert, Puccini, and Verdi and occasional Broadway musicals. A night out through Kevin’s subscription to the SF Symphony typically included his niece, Julie Sweetkind-Singer of San Jose. But it was Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys that delighted him the most and were a source of joy and comfort until his final days.
Kevin is survived by his wife Edie, his sons Edward (Ted) and Paul, his daughter-in-law Lisa Zambetti, his twin grandsons, Aidan Sullivan and Matteo Zambetti, who were second to none in his heart and endeared him as “Poppy,” and his brother Donal Sullivan of Wilmington, DE. He also embraced his many nieces and nephews as his own.
In lieu of flowers, please consider sending donations to the Ecumenical Hunger Program, 2411 Pulgas Avenue, East Palo Alto, CA 94303 (https://www.ehpcares.org/) or the Fairfield County Community Foundation, 40 Richards Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06854 (https://fccfoundation.org/). A private online memorial for friends and family will be held in the weeks to come.