mourns photojournalist P. Michael O'Sullivan, nationally
recognized for a daringly close-up style of documenting
social and political unrest in urban America during
the 1960's and 70's. O'Sullivan passed away on Sunday,
September 19, 2004 in the Hospice Unit at Lincoln
Park Hospital, Chicago, Illinois after a short and
valiant battle with lung cancer.
Michael Sean Brian O'Sullivan was born April 15,
1940 in Jackson, Jackson County, Michigan the son
of Emmett Michael and Freda (Atchison) O'Sullivan,
O'Sullivan attended grade school, Jackson High School,
and Jackson Community College. After college he
moved to Chicago, Illinois to live with his sister,
Phyllis, and her family. There began his life long
love of the city of Chicago.
in the O'Sullivan family tradition, Mr. O'Sullivan
enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in the 82nd Airborne.
After his Army years he returned to Chicago and
began his career in photography.
learned his craft from his mentor, Mickey Pallas
of Pallas Photo Co. Like his idol Robert Capa, whose
photographic documentation of the Spanish Civil
War remains a classic among photojournalists, O'Sullivan
quickly earned a reputation for courage and grace
under fire. Like Capa, he did it the hard way; behind
the lines, without regard for self, pursuing the
one elusive image that, once captured, would most
eloquently tell the story behind the violence, looting,
and burning of American cities.
his first major assignment, the Detroit riots, his
photograph was chosen from among thousands to be
on the cover of Life Magazine.
O'Sullivan worked on over 350 assignments for national
and international, including Time, Life, Business
Week, Fortune, Newsweek, Paris Match, The London
Daily Express, The Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago
received over 25 awards for his photographic work,
from both the New York and Chicago Art Directors
Clubs, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts
and Communicating Arts. His work included 25 cover
stories, including the Life cover on the Detroit
riots and twelve Business Week covers.. But it was
exclusive action photographs and interviews with
Irish Republican Army (IRA) leaders, soldiers, and
their families over several years that became his
passion. Profoundly affected by the injustice he
witnessed on what has come to be known as "Bloody
Sunday," O'Sullivan dedicated himself to the
Republican cause. His proudest achievement was the
publication of his book, "Patriot Graves, Resistance
in Ireland", Follet.
1982 O'Sullivan crashed his motorcycle in a near
fatal accident. He endured many months of hospitalization,
therapy, and rehabilitation. Shortly after the accident
a group of loving and compassionate friends held
several benefits to help cover O'Sullivan's medical
expenses. For over 20 years these friends contributed
to a trust fund to assist Michael in an independent
living situation. Walking with a cane, wearing his
black eye patch, pony tail, and a black beret, O'Sullivan
was a familiar figure on the streets of Old Town
and the near north side as he took his daily walks
for lunch or dinner in one of the neighborhood restaurants.
Although no longer able to work at his career he
never left home without his camera around his neck.
He greeted friends with a smile, a raised fist,
and a hearty "Boy, Boy".
his 23 year struggle to overcome his many disabilities
Michael taught us so much about love, perseverance,
courage, and compassion. For those of us who loved
him he was our hero.
is survived by his wife, Victoria (Oltean), a son,
Sean Michael, a daughter, Siobhan (Sean) Harvey,
and 4 grandchildren, Eleanor, Devlin, Donovan, and
Emilia, all of Chicago.
survived by 2 brothers, Robert (Lucille) Kirkpatrick
of Sesser, IL. and Terrance D. O'Sullivan of Ann
Arbor, MI. 2 sisters, Phyllis (Carl) Corona of Glen
Ellyn, IL. and Susan (Mike) Callahan of Detroit,
MI., and numerous nephews, nieces, and friends.
memorial service and celebration of life will be
held on at Saturday, Sept.25, 4:30 to 10:00 PM at
the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox
Ave. Chicago, IL Phone 773-282-7035
and friends are invited to attend and share in memories
of Michael's life.