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Teacher Joe: The kids were his calling

We can hear Joe Sullivan now. He is upstairs, with brother Frank, broadcasting to a heavenly audience that is mesmerized by the Sullivan Boys.

No, wait, he is teaching a writing class to a group that includes Moses. “Your 10 Commandments were TOO LONG!” Joe is shouting, but nicely, and with a smile.

Two things stand out to this writer among the many that made Joe Sullivan, who died Monday morning, the one-of-a-kind teacher, coach, and sports columnist that he was. The two are related.

We were once invited to speak to a social studies class at Manchester High School West. The class was polite and attentive, but it didn’t matter. The classroom was adjacent to that of English teacher Joe Sullivan, whose enthusiasm for the topic of the day (it could have been adjectives, for all we know) was such that little could be heard in our room except Joe Sullivan.

The second memory is when Joe gave up teaching to come to work at the Union Leader fulltime. He lasted less than a year. It wasn’t because we didn’t want him to stay. Having Joe as a fulltime sports writer and reporter was like having Yaz or Teddy Baseball as your cleanup hitter.

It was because he missed his students.

“Mr. McQuaid,” he said apologetically, (he was five years our senior but he was unfailingly polite and courteous) “I can’t do it. I miss the kids.”

So he went back to teaching. And now we will all miss him. But we will always hear him. Laughing. Encouraging. Cheering on his kids.

J.W. McQ.


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