Irish Freedom Committee


September 22, 2004 (Chicago)

Chicago 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.

Patrick 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, both deceased.

Mr. 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.

Following 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.

Michael 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.

In his first major assignment, the Detroit riots, his photograph was
chosen from among thousands to be on the cover of Life Magazine.

Mr. 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 Sun Times.

He 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.

In 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”.

In 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.

O’Sullivan 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.

Also 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.

A 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

Family and friends are invited to attend and share in memories of
Michael’s life.

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