Geneva Community Mourns the Passing of Don Sullivan - Geneva College
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Geneva Community Mourns the Passing of Don Sullivan

Picture of Geneva Community Mourns the Passing of Don Sullivan

“Coach, Teacher, Mentor and Friend Whose Impact is Still Felt Today”

Don Sullivan arrived on Geneva College’s campus in 1975 as the defensive coordinator for the football team as well as the Assistant Dean of Students. His stint at Geneva began after a teaching and coaching career at North Allegheny and Avalon High Schools that spanned over two decades. While at Geneva College, Sullivan remained on the football staff until retiring from coaching in 1986. He remained at the college as the Vice President of Student Development and retired in 1998 having also served as the Director of Athletics in his final year before being named Vice President Emeritus of Student Development.

Sullivan passed away on Friday at the age of 84 and left a legacy of love and caring sprinkled throughout the region that still is impacting families today.

Geno DeMarco, who took over as Geneva’s head football coach following the retirement of Gene Sullivan, Don’t brother, also took over as the school’s director of athletics following Don’s retirement, is someone who has clearly been inspired by the life of Don Sullivan. “I’m simply not the person I am today without the Sullivan family,” says DeMarco. “Don Sullivan lived his life as an example of how we should all strive to live our lives. A family man in every sense of the word, Coach Don treated each one of us like his own children. He influenced my life in every way possible as a man, as a football player and as a Christian. I am just one of hundreds of students who came through Geneva College during that era when lives were transformed because of the love that he showed everyone.”

Coach Don, who grew up in Avalon, graduated from Slippery Rock State Teachers College. He parlayed his teaching degree into a job at North Allegheny High School that then led to an opportunity to return to his alma mater at Avalon and combine his love for teaching and coaching football.

“Don Sullivan was a man of God first and foremost,” explains Geneva College director of athletics Van Zanic. “It is difficult to think about Geneva College in the 1970s, 80s and 90s and not talk about the Sullivan family. Don’s brother Gene spent 16 years on the sideline as Geneva’s head football coach and Don’s 21 years as a coach, an administrator and a leader on Geneva’s campus helped mold an entire generation of students and student-athletes. The effect that Coach Don had on the lives of students over 20 years ago is still being felt today. He was a special man that cared for everyone and the Geneva College community was a better place because of his presence for over two decades.”


Sullivan was indeed a family man, and his wife of nearly 62 years, Elizabeth and three children, Mark, Cathy and Dan, wish to continue affecting the lives of students on Geneva’s campus by asking that memorial contributions in Coach Don’s name be made to the Geneva College football program.


A life well-lived and a generation strongly influenced because of that life - Don Sullivan’s presence will continue to be felt for years to come. His selfless contributions to the Geneva College community and beyond will be the legacy of a man who sought only to live his life for Christ.

Jun 9, 2020