South Ocean Beach Shop owner Gene Sullivan, 89

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Staff report

Owner of Delray Beach’s South Ocean Beach Shop Gene Sullivan died last month in his Boynton Beach home surrounded by his family.

He was 89 years old. He died from skin cancer.  The Shop is still family run.

Sullivan was an Air Force veteran, who met his wife, Pamela, while serving in England. He was a writer for the Stars and Stripes newspapers.

He attended Miami University on the GI Bill after he completed his military service. He completed his law degree from Cumberland University in Tennessee. He passed the state bar exam and was the only student in the country that year to be directly appointed to the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

But his father wasn’t in good health, so he chose to help with his father’s business. He commuted on the Long Island railway so his children could be raised in the seaside town of Babylon. He was eventually brought to South Florida where he bought the South Ocean Beach Shop. He put in many hours there with his wife. His youngest daughter, Diana, followed as co-owner.

“Gene and I started our businesses at the same time 1992, 1993,” said Fran Marincola. “At that time I actually went to work every day, as did he. We talked a lot about Delray and we were both believers.”

For 25 years, Marincola’s Caffe Luna Rosa and the store have been neighbors.

“Gene had a joke a day,” Marincola said. “I haven’t a clue where he got them from.”

Over the 25 years he said he had his disagreements with Sullivan, but they never lasted long.

“They were always settled over coffee and Danish the next day,” he said. “I am forever grateful to him.”

He said if it weren’t for Sullivan, who served as the condo president at the time, Caffe Luna Rosa could have never open the way it is today.

He said Sullivan and several others were instrumental in changing some of the condo rules so that Caffe Luna Rosa could serve food inside and stay open until whatever time was allowed by the rules at the time.

“We lost one of our own,” Marincola said. “A Delray Beach believer.”

His family said he was a role model and story teller who had courage and a determination to live.  He enjoyed fishing, golf, politics and history. He traveled the world with his wife, who survives him as well as his son Gene, daughters Pam, Laura, Mary and Diana as well as four grandchildren Alexandra, Lauren, Connor and Eugene.