Sullivan, former hospital CEO, remembered for being fair, kind

John Reed Sullivan was known for being hands-on in his work as a hospital CEO and for his fairness, and that’s how he is being remembered now.

John Sullivan

Sullivan, who spent several years as CEO of Stanly Memorial Hospital, now Atrium Health Stanly, died March 31 at age 77 in Albemarle, a city he served and called home for many years.

He served in hospitals in Tennesee and Kentucky before moving to North Carolina in 1988 to lead Stanly Memorial.

His obituary speaks to part of his routine at the hospital: “At Stanly Memorial he become known for his daily rounds, walking the halls of the hospital, even on weekends and holidays, getting to know the employees and making sure they knew they were appreciated for their work and dedication.”

He became an executive vice president with Carolinas Healthcare Systems in 1995. In 2008, he moved to oversee the construction of Roper St. Francis Mt. Pleasant Hospital in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

Besides his work in healthcare, he was active in the community.

Chris Vaughn, executive director of the John P. Murray Community Care Clinic in Albemarle, said he served on the clinic’s board from 2016 to 2021 and was chairman from 2017 to 2020.

“John Sullivan was a soft spoken, kind individual, who had a heart for this community,” Vaughn said.

Sullivan served on the Albemarle Planning and Zoning Board for many years, including as chairman.

“John was always fair and reasonable with everyone he dealt with during his time on the board and was committed to seeing the City continue to grow and improve in many ways,” Albemarle Planning Director Kevin Robinson said. “He was an excellent representative of the City and was one of the nicest people I have met, here in Albemarle or anywhere else.”

But ultimately, Sullivan could not stay away from serving at the hospital.

“I had the privilege of having John return to what is now Atrium Health Stanly as a volunteer in 2015,” said Kim Davis, CHVM, director of volunteer services at Atrium Health Stanly. “When he returned, he asked to do the messenger/mail cart, as he loved walking these halls again. He said he found joy in seeing so many of his friends, and former teammates, each time he was here. John was truly a personable and genuine kind soul. I will miss him greatly.”

His funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Albemarle, officiated by Rev. Andy Jung and Dr. Kendell Cameron.