Community Foundation(s): Brainerd Lakes Area
Award: 2004 Award in Philanthropy from the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation
John Sullivan believed that people learn better from active participation, not simply being told what to do. It’s a lesson he learned at a young age when he gave food to homeless people living by the railroad tracks in Park Rapids and delivered turkeys at Thanksgiving and gifts at Christmas to those in need.
It’s also a lesson he shared with the audience when he received the inaugural Award in Philanthropy from the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation at their annual dinner in July of 2004. To say that Sullivan is deserving of this award would be an understatement. The award recognizes the efforts of an individual or couple who have significantly contributed to the field of philanthropy in the region.
As a resident of Baxter for more than 50 years, Sullivan was the owner of Park Region Timber Company and Navillus Land Company. He was an active community volunteer serving in leadership and committee roles with the Baxter School Board, Build Brainerd, Crow Wing County Planning and Zoning Board, the Baxter Utilities Commission, the Brainerd/Baxter Trails Board, the Baxter Long-Range Planning Commission, Baxter Cemetery Board, the County Water Plan Board and his church. He was also instrumental in the development of the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation.
Sullivan, who passed away Sept. 26, 2011, had a generous spirit that was driven by his deep faith in God.
He shared this wisdom in an earlier interview: “The Lord has been teaching me along the way. The Bible backs up what I have come to recognize and believe,” Sullivan said. “I can’t take it with me, but I sure can do things with what I have, to aid God’s work and provide for treasures in heaven. That is simply what I am attempting to do.”