Cover photo for Charles "Charlie" Leonard Sullivan's Obituary
1942 Charles "Charlie" 2023

Charles "Charlie" Leonard Sullivan

December 25, 1942 — September 2, 2023



Charles “Charlie” Leonard Sullivan, age 80, of Perkinston, MS passed peacefully on Saturday, September 2, 2023.  Charles, a fifth-generation Mississippian was born December 25, 1942, in Tennessee, to the late Charles Henry Sullivan and Sarah Evelyn Watson.  He earned his academic degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi (BS 1965; MS 1969.)  He attended the University of Mississippi for a year of post graduate work (1969-70).  In 1967 he became a history and geography teacher at the Perkinston Campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.   In 1977 he became chairman of the Perkinston Campus Social Studies Department. Upon his retirement from teaching in May 2006, he was named MGCCC’s first Professor Emeritus.  Beginning in 1994 Sullivan assumed the duties of MGCCC Archivist.

Sullivan is the author of The Mississippi Gulf Coast:  Portrait of a People (1985) and Hurricanes of the Mississippi Gulf Coast (1986).  In commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of Camille in August 2009, Sullivan produced an updated and expanded version of his 1986 work titled Hurricanes of the Mississippi Gulf Coast: Three Centuries of Destruction which carried the story of Mississippi Gulf Coast Hurricanes through Katrina.  In commemoration of the Centennial of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Sullivan produced Gulf Coast Album: A  Journey in Historic Photographs 1899-2011 From New Orleans Across the Mississippi Gulf Coast to Mobile--Selections from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Archives. (2011)

In collaboration with Bourbon Hughes, he produced Valor Remembered:  20th Century War Dead of the State of Mississippi (1996).  In 2002 he completed a 608-page volume titled Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College: A History, 1911-2000.   In 2006 he published Down South with the Dixie Press--a pre-Katrina journey from Pearlington to Pascagoula in photographs selected from the C.C. “Tex” Hamill Down South Magazine Collection and the Dixie Press Collection.  His other writings include a number of scholarly monographs, journal articles, and many newspaper and popular magazine offerings.  Together with colleagues Winfred Moncrief and Doug Mansfield, he wrote and produced four documentaries comprising MGCCC’s award winning “Magnolia Series”-- Henry Jetton Tudury:  Mississippi’s Most Decorated Doughboy (1988); Gathering at the River:  South Mississippi’s Methodist Camp Meetings (1990); Beauvoir:  Memorial to the Lost Cause (1991); and No Greater Love:  Roy Wheat in Vietnam (1992).  In 1993, Sullivan, together with Moncrief and Mansfield, received the Mississippi Historical Society Award of Merit for the production of No Greater Love.

Sullivan was named Biloxi Historian of the Year in 1987.  In 1989 and again in 1991 he received the National Teaching Award from the National Institute for Staff and Organization Development at the University of Texas and was twice named Perkinston Campus Instructor of the Year (1976 and 1990).  The Mississippi State Legislature honored him with its 1992 HEADWAE Award as the Outstanding Faculty Member for MGCCC.  In 2000 the Mississippi Humanities Council selected Sullivan as the MGCCC (Perkinston Campus) recipient of its annual Humanities Teacher Award.  On October 24, 2002, Sullivan received the Spirit of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Award.

On February 22, 2008, the Mississippi Humanities Council presented Sullivan with the Director’s Award for the Preservation of Mississippi Culture “for his intense efforts to preserve artifacts and memorabilia on the Mississippi Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.  His efforts saved two photograph collections [C.C. “Tex” Hamill Down South Magazine Collection and the Dixie Press Collection] which would have been destroyed if not for his dedication to preserving them.”  In 2008 Sullivan became the Recording Secretary of the Combined Boards of Beauvoir. 

On March 6, 2010, Sullivan received the Dunbar Rowland Award from the Mississippi Historical Society in recognition of lifelong contributions to the preservation, study, and interpretation of Mississippi History.  He served as President of the Mississippi Historical Society from March 2013 to March 2014.  In 2015 Sullivan released 1,000 signed copies of Katrina Plus Ten, The Saga of Beauvoir, the Friendship Flag, and the Connecticut Sergeant’s Sword.

On Homecoming Day 2016, Sullivan was given the Sam Owen Award for service to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. 

In 2019 he recorded a video for the 50th Anniversary of Hurricane Camille with David Thornton and Rex Jones for the Society of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.

On June 16, 2021, he presented the booklet--Oldfields and The Davidson Raid and First Families of Oldfields, to attendees at the “Saving the Lewis House-Oldfields” Preservation Summit hosted by the Mississippi Heritage Trust.

In 2022, Charles Sullivan received the Heritage Award for Distinguished Service presented by the Mississippi Heritage Trust for his life’s work in preserving history.

Quotes from Charles from the article in Mississippi Magazine, May/June 1987 by Brenda D. Jacobs “I never wanted to be anything but a history teacher, never from the beginning…the first few paychecks I ever drew here (Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College) I could not believe that they were going to pay me to do something that I wanted to do so badly.”

While participating in filming the miniseries North and South for one week as a member of Stanford’s Mississippi Battery, Sullivan was paid $50 a day for the privilege of stepping back in time.  He would later write”…what is not blistered, scraped, scratched, bitten, bruised, cut or burnt, is sore, or just hurts…but I would not trade the experience for anything…”

As I looked at the cemeteries (along the Coast) and the names began to come into my consciousness…now when I call roll in class it means a lot more, because I get a Krebs from Pascagoula and I see visions of Baron Von Kreb, or I get a Delmus, and I know what they did.  It’s given be a greater appreciation of students.  These names like Ladner and Lanier…you know, they’re magical to me now.”

“History is full of love and death and war and peace…It shows people at their best and worst and at every point in between.  It is about you and your grandma and grandpa.  How could you not like that?  I just refuse to believe that you don’t want to know about that.”

In 2006 when Sullivan became Mississippi Gulf Coast Community’s first Professor Emeritus it was written, “Charlie has inspired generations of students and colleagues with his commitment to giving history breath.  He has never sought glory, only a decisive win or a peaceful truce.  You could say he has a triple destiny:  To teach history, to preserve history, and to make history.  The latter he never intended to do.  The former two, he lives to do.”

Left to cherish his memory is his loving wife, Jane Sullivan of 36 years; his sister, Janet Sullivan Vines (Bud) of Natchez, MS; his daughter, Leigh Sullivan Roberge; his grandson, Collin Roberge, and the people whose lives he touched and inspired.

Memorial services will be handled by Bradford O’Keefe Funeral Home at the First United Methodist Church of Wiggins in the Family Life Center, 422 Pine Avenue, Wiggins, MS, on Thursday, September 14, 2023, with a visitation from 9:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. when the service begins.

In lieu of flowers please donate to the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Archives or to the Charles and Jane Sullivan Scholarship Fund at MGCCC Foundation, P.O. Box 99, Perkinston, MS 39573.

Bradford O’Keefe Funeral Home, O’Neal Road, Gulfport is honored to serve the Sullivan family.



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Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, September 14, 2023

9:30 - 11:00 am (Central time)

First United Methodist Church of Wiggins

422 East Pine Avenue, Wiggins, MS 39577

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

First United Methodist Church of Wiggins

422 East Pine Avenue, Wiggins, MS 39577

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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