Long Island remembers

Christopher P. Sullivan

  • Age: 39
  • Employer: FDNY
  • Place of death: Unknown
  • Community: North Massapequa
  • County: Nassau

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About Christopher Sullivan

Christopher Paul Sullivan, 39, of North Massapequa, was a New York City Fire Department lieutenant assigned to Ladder 111 in Brooklyn. He was last seen heading toward the south tower with four of his men. All died when the building collapsed, said his wife, Dolores Sullivan. His remains were not recovered, only the front piece of his helmet.

This past summer, Dolores Sullivan and her sons spent the morning rappelling down a canyon at Ephedra's Grotto in Moab, Utah.

That was a first for the substitute teacher.

"I don't think I would have done that if Chris were alive," she said. "I think I would have gone shopping."

Over the decade since Christopher Sullivan was killed, his wife has found herself doing many things for the first time. She hopped on a roller coaster at Disney World in Florida. She swam with the dolphins in the Bahamas. She went white water rafting on the Colorado River and mountain biking in Cedar Knob Mountain in Idaho.

Fear, inertia, whatever it was, she worked to overcome the obstacles to ensure that her sons - Sean, now 16, and Brian, 14 - didn't feel cheated because their father wasn't alive to share these experiences with them.

"I knew I needed to be there with them and be a model for them," she said. "Now, I even enjoy it."

She also wanted her boys to live life to the fullest, the way their father did.

Christopher Sullivan was the fourth of six children. "He was 6 feet, 5 inches tall, tough and strong, but warm, gentle and giving," his wife said.

A few weeks before 9/11, her husband, in a moment of spontaneity, wanted to take the boys, then 6 and 4, fishing at Captree State Park.

"I was like, 'how are you going to pull it off at the last minute,' " she remembered asking him.

He quickly packed lunches and off father and sons went.

When he returned home, she remembers him saying, "Dolores, I just had one of the greatest days of my life." - Chau Lam

This profile was originally published in 2001/2002

Christopher Sullivan, a lieutenant with the New York City Fire Department, was last seen Sept. 11 racing up the stairs inside One World Trade Center with members of Engine Co. 214 to help evacuate those still inside. He is believed to have perished when the tower collapsed.

"When all is said and done, if my brother had to do that again, he would," said Sullivan's older brother, Robert, of South Farmingdale. "That's the kind of guy he was."

Christopher Sullivan was born July 28, 1962, at Lenox Hill Hospital, Manhattan. After graduating from Farmingdale High School, he worked as a corrections officer for the Nassau County Sheriff's Department and as a New York City police officer before joining the Fire Department in August 1986. He was assigned first to Engine Co. 82, Ladder 31 in the Bronx, his brother said, before being promoted to lieutenant and transferred to Engine Co. 214, Ladder 111 in Brooklyn.

A year after joining the Fire Department, Sullivan married his high school sweetheart, Dolores Neufeld, a kindergarten teacher with the Huntington public schools. They were raising two sons, Sean, 6, and Brian, 4, in North Massapequa.

A big man at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Sullivan wore a flat-top haircut and carried a muscular build from years of weight lifting. He also enjoyed the outdoors, including family camping trips to Maine and Vermont and fishing for snapper at Captree State Park.

Robert Sullivan said his brother will be remembered as an all-around family man who cooked and cared for his sons on days he didn't have to go to the firehouse and for his positive outlook, strong faith in God and penchant for practical jokes. "Every day, he lived life to the fullest," Robert Sullivan said. "You couldn't rattle the guy that easy. He was just easygoing and enjoyed things."

Robert Sullivan said his brother would have been philosophical about death and the days ahead. "I think he would say we shouldn't worry about the guys who died, that God would take care of them," he added. "He would say that we need to focus on the country, stick together and do what's right." -- Pat Burson

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