Senator John Benedict Sullivan View All Years

Compiled Historical Information
Date of Death: 9/21/1925
Birth Place: Afton, IA
Birth County: Union
Party Affiliation: Republican
Assemblies Served:
Senate: 34 (1911) - 35 (1913)
House: 32 (1907) - 33 (1909)
Home County: Polk
John Benedict Sullivan
Polk County


John B. Sullivan was born at Afton, Iowa, December 9th, 1869, one of the younger children of Mr. and Mrs. E. F. Sullivan. At nine years of age he entered St. Benedict’s College at Atchison, Kansas, where he remained until his studies were sufficiently advanced to permit him to enter the Afton High School. After completing the prescribed course at the Afton High School, he matriculated at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, where he enrolled in the College of Arts and Letters. During his four years at Notre Dame, Mr. Sullivan took an active interest in debating and public speaking, representing the University in contests with the other universities and colleges in that section of the country. He was also connected, in the capacity of editor, with the University publication, “Scholastic,’’ writing editorials and some fiction and dramatic criticism.

Graduating from the University with a B. Litt. degree in 1891, he entered the State University of Iowa in the fall of the same year and pursued his studies in the Law Course. Having graduated and passed the state bar requirements he returned to Creston, to which place his parents had moved while he was in the University. Shortly after his return he was elected City Solicitor, a position which he filled with credit and promise, and was rewarded for his application and zeal in that office by election to the position of county attorney of Union county. In May of 1896 he was united in marriage to Cecelia Norton, the daughter of Bridget Norton, of Creston, to which union there was born one child, a son, Norton Sullivan.

At the close of his term as county attorney, Mr. Sullivan moved to Des Moines and commenced the practice of law in that city. He was later joined by Jerry B. Sullivan, and the firm of Sullivan and Sullivan, which had heretofore existed in Creston, composed of E. F. Sullivan, John B. Sullivan and Jerry B. Sullivan, became recognized as a Des Moines firm, and so continued until the death of John B. Sullivan, at his home September 21, 1925.

John B. Sullivan was generous of his time and talent in the service of the public. He was zealous in attention and application to the problems of civic interest, conscious of his duty as a citizen to the state and the nation, and ardent in his political affiliations because his allegiance was to principles rather than men.

Mr. Sullivan’s death, which followed a general decline in health extending over a period of more than two years, was in a great measure due to the fact that the strain and responsibility of holding public office and at the same time actively practicing his chosen profession, exhausted his reserve strength to a degree that he was unable to overcome the effects of a nervous breakdown. Mr. Sullivan served both in the House and the Senate at a time when legislation of the greatest import to the state was being considered and upon the board of education when the foundation was commenced for the present comprehensive program of building.

Mr. Sullivan was deeply conscious to the three great duties of a citizen, devotion to country, church and home, and he was unfailing in heeding the call to duty. He recognized the sacredness of loyalty to his friends and in return enjoyed the blessings of the good wishes and comradeship of his fellow men. He was temperate in his estimate of those who differed from him in any opinion, he was conservative in forming and expressing his judgments and steadfast in maintaining those which he had formed and believed to be right and for the common good. In the highest sense and meaning of the words he was a Christian gentleman, kindly, courteous, modest and gentle.

“He was a profoundly spiritual man, beautifully tolerant of the inner life of other men, his own radiant mind lit up with the light of faith, his own generous heart warmed by the fire of hope, his own noble spirit mellowed by the rich liquor of charity.”

“A man whose life glided on like the rivers that water the woodlands,

Darkened by the shadows of earth but reflecting an image of heaven.”

Whereas, His standing as a man, citizen and legislator has been of the highest character, therefore

Be It Resolved, That the Senate take this occasion to express its highest appreciation of the splendid character, honest public service and adopt this memorial in the name of the people of the state of Iowa.

Also, Be It Further Resolved, That this resolution be spread upon the record of the Senate and that the same be engrossed and that an engrossed copy thereof be sent to the family of the deceased.





The resolution was unanimously adopted by a rising vote.