The Frank B. Sullivan Memorial Fund

Historical Tidbits about Frank B. Sullivan

The decade of the 1960s is often referred to in the deaf community as the Golden Age for Deaf People. A confluence of federal funds to enhance the lives of deaf people, along with the emergence of well-educated deaf leaders, resulted in substantial progress in many significant areas of life (starting with the right to drive).

Fortunately, the varied expertise of these deaf leaders culminated in many professional support resources becoming available with the initiation of significant technological breakthroughs (captioned TV, TTY’s, etc.).

Among these leaders, and at the forefront of shaping these resources for deaf people, was Frank B. Sullivan, known as “Sully.” His wise counsel and personal advocacy had a tremendous impact on guiding forward these new opportunities and services toward equal rights for all deaf people.

“Sully” served as a long-time Grand President of the National Fraternal Society of the Deaf at the Chicago suburb home office. As such, he had business contacts with many fraternal members in the USA and Canada through the Society’s large number of divisions in major cities. He served as a director on numerous boards, principally the National Captioning Institute in Virginia, the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees, and the National Advisory Group (NAG) for the National Technical Institute of the Deaf.

• Born in Butte, Montana
• Deafened at age 10
• Graduated from Montana School for the Deaf, 1936
• Graduated from Gallaudet College, B.A., 1941
• Teacher, South Dakota School for the Deaf, 1941-1942
• Teacher, West Virginia School for the Deaf, 1942-1944
• Inspector, Firestone Tire and Rubber Co., Akron, OH, 1944-1945
• Clerk, NFSD Home Office, Oak Park, IL – 1945-1948
• NFSD Assistant Grand Secretary-Treasurer, 1948-1957
• NFSD Grand Secretary-Treasurer, 1957-1967
• NFSD Grand President, Mount Prospect, IL Home Office – 17 years, 1967-1984
• Adjunct Faculty Member, DePaul University, Chicago, 1965-1970
• Awarded Honorary Doctorate from Gallaudet University, 1978
• Member, Board of Trustees, Gallaudet University, 1965-1989; Emeritus
• Member, National Advisory Group (NAG), National Technical Institute of the Deaf, 1972-1975
• Member, Board of Directors, National Captioning Institute (NCI), 1980-1993
• Consultant, National Captioning Institute (NCI), 1984-1997

Greatest NFSD Achievements during Sully’s Tenure as Grand President between 1967 and 1984

  • Initiated insurance sales and member recruiting program, 1968
  • Established a full-time office position for Agency Director and part-time Field Representative positions in licensed states/provinces
  • Launched the first computer system at Home Office
  • Initiated Society’s awards for Frater of the Year, Hall of Fame, and Division of the Year
  • Initiated Society’s Scholarship and Athlete of the Year programs for high school students in the USA and Canada
  • Started the Society’s pension plan for employees
  • Was Keynote speaker at the 1963 Symposium of Deaf Drivers in Denver, CO, which led to the nationwide acceptance of deaf drivers at standard insurance rates
  • Built-up Society’s surplus funds to nearly 1 million dollars by 1984
  • Oversaw Society’s growth to 13,000 members and 167 Divisions by 1984
  • Insurance in force grew to 17 million dollars by 1984 before his retirement.