Biography of Mortimer Aloysius Sullivan

Serving his fifth term as the mayor of Newport, Hon. Mortimer Aloysius Sullivan, former judge of the Probate Court, is known as a leader of the State bar, and in the practice of his profession has attained distinction. That he has a large and constant partisan and non-partisan following is attested by the fact of his elections to public office on repeated occasions. His contributions to the best traditions of the bar, the courts and the fields of service, in which he is and has been engaged, are well known to the public in Newport and throughout the Commonwealth.

Timothy C. Sullivan, father of the mayor of Newport, was a native of Ireland, who came to the United States in his youth. He settled in Newport, where he became identified with the business and community life. He entered the service of the Federal Government in the Civil War at the inception of the struggle, and was wounded in the first battle of Bull Run, where he lost an arm. After his recovery he returned to Newport, and resumed his merchandising interest, in which he continued engaged until his death, May 9, 1905. He married Mary Blake, who was born in Ireland in October, 1846, and was a young girl when she arrived in this country. They were the parents of ten children, eight of whom survived, among the former being Mortimer Aloysius, of whom further, and John Blake Sullivan, who became postmaster of Newport.

Hon. Mortimer Aloysius Sullivan, son of Timothy C. and Mary (Blake) Sullivan, was born in Newport, Rhode Island, January 2, 1880. He attended St. Mary’s Parochial School in his native city, and thence entered the Rogers High School, where he completed his preparatory training in 1902. His professional course was taken at the Columbia University Law School, where he received his degree of Bachelor of Laws at graduation in his class of 1905.

Admitted to the bar in the same year, Mr. Sullivan opened an office in the city of Newport, where he established himself in practice, in which he began at once to rise, and ere long he arrived at the point of a leader of the bar, which position and standing were long since assured. He continued to draw to his office representative people of the city and its environs, numbering among his clients many of the most important individuals and business concerns of the community. Mr. Sullivan has always been a member of the Democratic party, and on more than one occasion has been instrumental in leading it to a decisive victory.

In 1914, Mr. Sullivan was elected Judge of Probate of the city of Newport, and in the discharge of the exacting duties of that office, fraught with so many and various responsibilities, he made a notable record. Among other things, he attained an enviable reputation for judicial qualities and the display of a sense of equality and fairness in his handling of the problems presented to him for adjudication. He filled the position until March, 1923. On that date he relinquished the duties of his successor, having been elected to the office of Mayor of Newport. So favorable an impression did his first administration of this office make upon the electors that they reelected him for a second term, and this action they have since repeated on three occasions, giving him five successive terms, and being at this writing the holder of the office. He has served consecutively the longest of any one to hold this office in the history of the city. The municipality of Newport has benefited in many ways from the far-sighted, businesslike and tactful elements that have made his administrations fruitful of eminent results contributory to the progress and prosperity of his native city.

Popular in fraternal circles, Mayor Sullivan is affiliated with the Knights of Columbus, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Loyal Order of Moose, Friends of Irish Freedom, Sons of Union Veterans, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He is well liked in social organizations, belonging to the Wanumetonomy Golf and Country Club and the Ida Lewis Yacht Club. He is also a member of the Newport County Democratic Club, in whose proceedings he is a moving spirit. His religious fellowship is with St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church.

Mayor Sullivan married, June 29, 1920, at Newport, Mary Dorothy Rooney, daughter of Henry F. and Margaret (Collins) Rooney. Their children:

  1. Mary Dorothy, born July 3, 1921.
  2. Margaret Louise, born January 7, 1924.
  3. Mortimer Aloysius, Jr., born August 2, 1927.

Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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