Today we remember the life of Chuck Sullivan and we celebrate what he meant to us all. Charles Rene Sullivan was born on May 23, 1946 in Salida, Colorado to Joseph Jackman and Alisha Mergleman Jackman. Chuck was later adopted by David Sullivan. Chuck was the eldest of five children. Pat (now passed away), Peggy, Roxanne and Sherri. David worked at the El Paso Natural Gas Company and the family moved to Angel Peak Camp with the company in 1950. From there the family moved to the ranch in Ignacio in 1955, where Chuck grew up and graduated from Ignacio High School in 1964. Chuck started ranching early in his life. Chuck, his sisters, Alisha and David, would take the herd on a cattle drive in the Spring of every year. The route was Highway 160 from the Sullivan ranch in Ignacio to Pagosa Springs. The trip would take 2 ½ days and the family would camp along the way. Chuck stayed with the herd and helped bring them back in the Fall. That cattle drive would be rough today. Chuck and David enjoyed hunting deer together. David shared that eventually Chuck refused to hunt anymore because, “The gun was messed up and didn’t shoot straight!”
Chuck attended Fort Lewis College for 2 years and then was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War. While in the Army, Chuck shared that he received the unlikely job of “bartender.” He was sitting at the bar partaking in a beverage when in came a ranked officer wanting a drink. There was no bartender. The officer asked, “Can anyone here make a drink?” Chuck said, “I can do that!” He said being a bartender allowed him some privileges while serving his country. Like many times in Chuck’s life, it seems that he was in the right place at the right time and applied himself to helping. Peggy shared that when Chuck was in the army, he would send an occasional note requesting some small thing. One note said, “2 dozen cookies.” Soon, 2 dozen homemade cookies were on the way! After returning from the war, Chuck headed back to college and graduated in 1973 from Fort Lewis College with a degree in history.
Chuck met Donna Decker in 1954 when they were both 9 years old. They both said that didn’t like each other much then, but with both of their families heavily involved in ranching and 4H activities together, they would develop a friendship that turned into a loving and devoted relationship. Chuck and Donna married in 1970 in Durango and enjoyed more than 48 years together. Many times over the last weeks of Chuck’s life, he would state that he was “ready to go,” but just didn’t want to leave Donna. Together they had a daughter, Dana, who is currently living in Aztec, NM. Chuck was so proud of Dana. The more time that I came to know him, the more evident that he and Donna cherished their daughter and their granddaughter, Charleigh. Chuck was so proud of Charleigh and the two were very close. Chuck loved to talk about Charleigh working on the ranch, how successful she was in her rodeo activities and sports over the years. Charleigh has been a source of inspiration and pride for Chuck and Donna since her birth.
As each of us has experienced, Chuck has been a community leader and made a lot of great things happen for others over the years. It’s a long list, but here are a few examples: President of the 4H District Horse Council; leader in developing and building the Cortez Fairgrounds; Spring Creek Hall Board President “for life” and driving force in creation and renovation of Spring Creek Hall; managing and leading Spring Creek events, like the Pie Auction and the Spring Creek Dance.
Chuck was an accomplished horseman and enjoyed roping and attending rodeos. Early on while attending a rodeo in New Mexico, they needed a rodeo announcer. In his typical style, Chuck said, “I can do that!” So began a long career of rodeo announcing, often at the request of communities at a good distance away from home. Chuck also was an auctioneer.
Anyone who knew Chuck, knew he was a “Land Man.” He practiced his trade for over 40 years. He was known far and wide for his courteous and genuine way he approached people about their property. Chuck was a rancher all his life and someone who loved and respected the land. He understood what caring for land means to people and could work with them from their point of view.
When Chuck wasn’t performing his “Land Man” duties, you might find him and Donna at one of the local basketball games. They loved going to the games to support the kids and yell at the officials. They enjoyed following the local teams through the playoffs over the last several years and even traveled to the state playoffs on the eastern slope of Colorado many times to support the teams.
In closing, it’s important to know that Charles Rene Sullivan was indeed a blessed man! In life there are just a few things that really matter: your belief in and your relationship with Jesus Christ, your relationship with your family and the relationships with the people you’ve known and the positive impact you’ve had on their lives. Chuck has indeed been blessed in all three. Chuck is now in a very good place. He is in the arms of Jesus, where there is no more pain or suffering.
So when someone asks you, “How are you doing today?” Tell them what Chuck would always say, “I’m going to have a POWERFUL day!” If someone needs help, tell them, “I can do that!” We can all learn from how Chuck lived his life, let’s live our lives powerfully. Give yourself to what’s important…your faith, your family, helping your community and making good things happen.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to Spring Creek Hall, PO BOX 1308, Bayfield, CO 81122.