KLEBER C. SULLIVAN
July 25, 1916-Oct. 18, 2008
RALEIGH -- Kleber "Smokey" Carroll Sullivan, 92, a member of what Tom Brokaw correctly called the Greatest Generation, died Saturday.
Funeral services will be held at today at 2 p.m. at Bryan-Lee Funeral Home at 831 Wake Forest Road in Raleigh. A graveside service with military honors will follow at Montlawn Memorial Park, 2911 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh. There will be no visitation.
He was in good health, taking no medication of any sort, until he suffered a broken left hip this spring. He was recovering from that injury when as luck would have it, he fell and broke his right hip a week before his death. He died from complications due to his last fall, specifically a blood clot and resulting heart damage. He fought to leave the hospital until pain killing sedatives finally eased his exit from this life.
He was born in Lenoir County July 25, 1916, the youngest son of 13 sons born to Benjamin Britt and Claudia Arthur Sullivan. He also had three sisters. He grew to manhood working on his parents' farms, first in Lenoir, and later in Wayne, Counties.
He served in the U.S. Army with the 34th Combat Engineers in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. He was a survivor of Pearl Harbor, and served on several islands in the Central and South Pacific. These islands included Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides, Kwajalein and Eniwetok (where the atomic bomb was later tested) in the Marshalls, a stop-off at Tarawa in the Gilberts, and Saipan in the Marianas. He was hospitalized on three occasions for a total of nine months during the war. He received several medals for his wartime service, but had no use for them. He rarely spoke of the war, and would not watch any television broadcasts about it --
especially ones about Pearl Harbor.
Prior to the war he worked in his brother Plato's grocery store in Raleigh. Following the war he moved to Goldsboro where he operated a dance hall, service station, and grocery store. He worked in grocery stores most of his life. Some he operated by himself, others with various brothers - first in the Goldsboro and Kinston areas, and finally in Raleigh, where he moved to stay in 1952. "Retiring" at 55, he went on to work in several other stores.
Finally quitting the grocery business he began to pick up cans beside the highway to sell to recycling centers. In his '70's he walked as much as 30 miles in a day. In his early '80's, 15 miles. In his latter '80's and early '90's his "mileage" decreased gradually to a few miles a day, to one, and finally to a hundred yards or less a day - this with a walker or cane as he recovered from his first broken hip. He had a "no quit" attitude almost his entire life.
He is predeceased by his wife of 52 years, Mary Ellen Rowe Sullivan, and an infant daughter, Mary Anne Sullivan. He is also predeceased by his parents, 12 brothers, two sisters, two nephews, and one great-niece.
He is survived by a son, John C. Sullivan, of the home; and a sister, Mrs. Ethel S. Pate of Fremont. He is also survived by numerous nephews, nieces, great nephews and nieces, and a sizable number of honorary grandchildren.
Great gratitude is extended to family and friends for their love and concern for this man over the past week, year, and decades. Also greatly appreciated is the excellent medical care provided by Drs. Driver, Sacihinidran, Cuntson and many other doctors, and the nurses and the staff of the Durham Veterans' Admini-stration Medical Center.
Condolences may be made through www.bryan-leefuneralhome.com.
Published in Obituaries on October 21, 2008 1:47 PM