Henry Joseph Sullivan, an accomplished language officer for the United States government, passed away peacefully on May 23, 2015 at Saint Mary’s Home in Erie, PA. The son of William Francis and Florence McCarthy Sullivan, he was born in Ridley Park, PA on August 4, 1928.
As a youth, Henry was a top student and excelled at track and field in the Philadelphia area, winning many races and field events. He later in life became a marathon runner and won many trophies in his age group.
After leaving high school, Henry joined the Maryknoll Missionary Society and was ordained as a priest. He also studied the Korean language at Yale University. Maryknoll assigned him to Korea where he ran parishes and schools for 15 years. He became a top Korean linguist and scholar, preparing documents and giving speeches in Korean. He received high praise for his work.
Henry returned to the U.S. after 15 years, where he met and married his wife, Marcella Jansen Sullivan. They were inseparable until she died in 2005.
Henry became a codebreaker for the Department of Defense National Security Agency and rose to a high level position. During his career in the government, he also served as the top Korean language interpreter at the U.S. – Korean defense talks for both the Nixon and Ford administrations and for the Department of Defense officials. At NSA, he was recognized for his great language ability being given the Sam Jaffe award, the highest language award.
Henry was a caring individual for others needing help including his relatives. He and Marcella also worked for the “Food for the Poor” organization, giving assistance to various Latin American countries. They also ran ministries at prisons in Florida and did volunteer work for the Palm Beach Hospice.
Family members that preceded Henry in death include his parents, his sister Louise Fish of Olean, NY and his brother William Sullivan of Ridley Park, PA. He leaves his sisters, Maureen Koseff (Alan) of Erie, PA, and Florence Christ (Frank) of Atlanta, GA; and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at Saint Mary’s Home of Erie-East.