Mayor Richard J. Daley’s press secretary Francis J. ‘Frank’ Sullivan has died at 91

The former Sun-Times reporter started the Chicago Police Department’s news affairs office, then shifted to mayoral press secretary.

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Frank Sullivan, news reporter who became press secretary for Mayor Richard J. Daley

Frank Sullivan, a former Sun-Times reporter who became press secretary for Mayor Richard J. Daley


Frank Sullivan, former press secretary to Mayor Richard J. Daley, died Friday at 91, his family said.

Mr. Sullivan worked as a Chicago Sun-Times reporter from 1956 to 1968, covering the criminal courthouse and spending his last three years at the paper reporting from City Hall.

In 1968, he helped start the Chicago Police Department’s news affairs office, according to his daughter Molly Sullivan.

When the police were criticized about violence inflicted on demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, he staunchly defended them.

“He was right there in the middle of it,” Molly Sullivan said. “He said he had bricks thrown at his head.”

Mr. Sullivan moved to the role of mayoral press secretary in 1973, as Daley was being dinged by controversy over a shift of city insurance business to an agency that employed his son John P. Daley.

Mr. Sullivan also was responsible for the malaprop-prone mayor’s messaging amid reports of police spying on civic groups.

In a 1989 interview with the Sun-Times, he said Daley had “a very high IQ despite his proneness to inarticulateness. He had the quickest mind of anyone I’ve ever been with.”

Mr. Sullivan left City Hall after Daley’s death in 1976. He was publisher of Avenue M magazine and founded the Frank Sullivan & Associates public relations firm.

“He had an incredible work ethic, and he had a love for Chicago,” his daughter said.

He was the grandson of Frank Sullivan, a House Democratic minority leader in Springfield, and grand-nephew of Roger C. Sullivan, an early leader of the Cook County Democratic Party.

He grew up in Edgewater and graduated from St. Gertrude’s grade school, Loyola Academy and Loyola University. During the Korean War, he served with the Army in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Sullivan is survived by his wife Sally, son Matt, sisters Betty Moraghan, Trudy Schneider and Noreen Brady, brother Gene and three grandchildren.

A wake for Mr. Sullivan is planned from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at Curley Funeral Home, 6116 W. 111th St., Chicago Ridge. Visitation will be at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, 6435 S. Kilbourn Ave;, with a funeral Mass there to follow at 10 a.m. Saturday. Burial will be in Three Oaks, Michigan, which Mr. Sullivan loved to visit.

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