At “Frontline,” Mr. Sullivan “was always arguing for fairness,” constantly probing to make sure both sides of issues were well represented, said Raney Aronson-Rath, deputy executive producer.
“He was a man who didn’t conceal his own opinions and was quite forceful at times, which led to some challenging times in the editing rooms with producers,” Fanning recalled.
Kirk noted that “you didn’t want to go into a room or a meeting or a screening without having it right. He was a fighter for the things that he really believed in.”
And yet the hundreds of e-mails Fanning and Aronson-Rath have received since Mr. Sullivan’s death almost to a one mention his big-heartedness, his intellect, and a laugh no one forgot.
“He was a man with a great roaring laugh,” Fanning said.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Sullivan leaves a daughter, Kate of New York City; a son, Jake of Brookline; twin sons from his first marriage, Jason and Sean Smith; a brother, Dennis of Eugene, Ore.; and a sister, Sheila of Portland Ore.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Memorial Church in Harvard Yard.
“He really was always sort of a small-town boy at heart,” Harrison-Sullivan said. “Even though he had developed an intellectual and professional sophistication, he stayed true to himself.”
Kirk, who is from Idaho, said he and Mr. Sullivan talked about “what a privilege it was to go to Washington and report on serious politics. For us, it was always a big deal to go there and think of the biggest issues of the day, a couple of guys who had worked our way up.”
Reflecting in 1993 about how far he had gone in his profession, Mr. Sullivan said the pride he took in work and family grew stronger each year.
“In all, this far downstream,” he wrote, “I seem to have lived a life not willed, but discovered — discovered in this honorable work I never even dreamed of as a young man, and in the joy of a family I once believed I might never find.”
Bryan Marquard can be reached email@example.com.