Monday, October 18, 2021

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Raymond J. “RJ” Sullivan, Jr., former representative for the State of Rhode Island, District 29, passed away on October 12, 2021.

He was the beloved son of Raymond J. and Maureen (McKennedy) Sullivan, Sr.

In his early years, Ray was heavily involved in the community of Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in Coventry, RI, even serving as an altar boy for several years. Later in life, Ray was very active in the communities of Beneficent Congregational Church and Sanctuary Church Online. During his teenage years, Ray was a member of the Byron A. Northup chapter of DeMolay in Coventry, RI. Ray has gone to great lengths to revitalize this chapter, as well as DeMolay across Rhode Island. Ray was Master Councilor to the Byron A. Northup Chapter, Senior Councilor to Rhode Island DeMolay State, receiving the degrees of Knight and Legion of Honor. The relationships formed with many of his DeMolay brothers will remain strong throughout his life. Ray was a graduate of Bishop Hendricken High School and Providence College, where his support for the PC Friars men’s basketball team was limitless. Ray’s love for the news work began at The Anchor at Rhode Island College. From there, Ray worked as a reporter for the Kent County Times, before moving to the Pawtucket Times as a reporter and later editor.

In 1996, Ray made his basketball coaching debut when asked to coach a 9-year-old Coventry Basketball Association team that had struggled the previous year. Ray has built on his successes and his love of coaching here to create a small traveling team called the Coventry Wildcats, made up of players from several local communities. Ray continued to coach many of these players when in 1998 he took over as basketball coach at Fr. Doyle School in Coventry, RI, where he coached in several capacities until 2007. In 2001, the WildCats moved on to the RI Breakers and joined the Amateur Athletic Union, where Ray coached for another 5 years. Ray also spent several years as a volunteer, coach and referee in the Providence City Recreation League.

Ray has always had a love for politics and one of the first times he got deeply involved was as part of Myrth York’s 2002 campaign for governor. Ray excelled in the long hours and constant interaction with new faces from all over Rhode Island.

Ray’s next big step in politics began in 2005 when he was elected to represent House District 29, which includes the cities of Coventry and West Greenwich, until 2011. Ray was especially proud of the first Bill that ‘He introduced and adopted, H5107, which allowed nursing homes and assisted living facilities to redistribute sealed and unused blister pack prescriptions in order to reduce costs for this vulnerable population.

In 2008, Ray assumed the role of Rotary’s state director for the Obama for America campaign. He was especially proud of the time he devoted to this campaign and of many of the lasting relationships he established. Ray helped the campaign to victory in Rhode Island in an election where every vote counted. In 2010, Ray served as campaign manager for the successful re-election of US Representative Jim Langevin. Ray cherished daily interactions with Rhode Islanders from all walks of life, whether it was door-to-door, over the phone, or on the street.

Ray’s passion for social justice and equality led him to become Executive Director of Marriage Equality Rhode Island from 2011 to 2013. A tenacious advocate, he oversaw one of the biggest popular campaigns in Rhode Island history. Island leading to the passage of landmark legislation to ensure that all families are recognized, valued and equally respected by the law.

In 2013, Ray joined Checkmate Consulting Group as a Partner where he worked alongside elected officials, unions, community leaders and advocacy groups to develop and advance policies that have helped promote the fairness and improve the lives of workers. He was very proud of his work advocating for nurses and frontline health professionals represented by United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP). In addition to UNAP, Ray has worked with clients such as the National Education Association Rhode Island, RI Housing, New Venture Fund, Rhode Island Coalition of Labor Union Women, and many more.

Ray was a longtime Liverpool FC supporter and avid supporter of the New England Revolution for nearly two decades. He was deeply involved in the New England football community, taking a leadership role in the Rebellion Supporter Group and creating and hosting the Revs podcast, Six States One Podcast. Ray has always made a point of making newcomers to the fan field and The Fort feel welcomed and accepted.

Everything Ray has done in his personal and professional life was aimed at giving voice to the voiceless and improving the lives of people. His love for the community and those around him knew no bounds. Ray truly left Rhode Island in a better place than he found it.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Raymond J. “RJ” Sullivan, Jr., please visit flower shop.


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