Mike "Sully" Sullivan passed away Wednesday - peacefully in his sleep - succumbing to a short fight with bile duct cancer.
Facebook was abuzz with the news, but one thing was interesting - all of them somehow managed to celebrate this man - "Raise a glass to Sully" was a common post. "He's opening up a tavern in Heaven" was another. Still others vowed that their next Guinness would be in his honor.
What a way to go.
Sully wasn't a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. What you saw was what you got. But for as outspoken and at times controversial as he was, everyone - even those who disagreed with him - had an intrinsic love for this man who was by all intents and purposes a character like no other.
There is a closeup photo of him on the Peoria Journal Star website - I would love to put it here but I don't want to get in trouble - but to me, it encompasses all that was Sully. The black beret covering his mop of long, wavy hair. Those eyes - those Irish eyes - full of kindness yet with a touch of piss and vinegar. The lines on his face daring anyone to guess his age, which he kept a closely-guarded secret.
The man lived life. Plain and simple. He did what he loved, and he died knowing he had a friend in most every person he met over the years in this town. If you met him once, you had been "touched" by Sully.
An Irish Catholic, I'm sure attendance at his funeral will be huge. But I also know that there will be many, many celebrations of his life going on around town for the next few weeks. I know that every time I enjoy a Guinness from now on, I will think of Sully, and raise my glass to him.
There are a lot of great Irish Blessings that I could post here, but I think this one sums up Sully best: “May you get to heaven a half hour before the devil knows you're dead.”
I think he made it.