George F. Sullivan, 91

George Finley Sullivan – known as “Sully” to most – passed away on Tuesday, December 25, 2018 after 91 years of vibrant life.

The youngest of six siblings, George was born to Bessie and Samuel Dempsey Sullivan in Rockville on May 6, 1927. At age 16, he graduated high school and volunteered for the United States Army. Like many who served in WWII, he rarely spoke of his service but was a proud member of the American Legion and the Forty and Eight.

In the 1940’s, George began his life-long career in sports medicine while serving as a student trainer, playing football for the Huskers, and pursuing an undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska. While working the Valentine hay fields during summer break, he met his wife of 67 years, Genie Sullivan. After getting a physical therapy degree at Iowa, he returned to NU to complete his master’s degree and served as an assistant athletic trainer and the head physical therapist from 1953-77. In 1977, he became the head athletic trainer for the University of Nebraska, a position he held until retirement in 1995. Since retirement, he served the school in a consulting capacity, was honored to have the training room named after him, and helped sustain an annual student athletic scholarship in his name. George was proud that the scholarship has, and will continue to, support student athletes pursuing a degree in the medical field.

Over his 50+ year career, George was admired as a leader and innovator in his field. He trained across all sports and lent his expertise to local, regional, national and international sporting events. He lectured frequently, published in academic journals, and designed innovative solutions to help improve recovery and performance.

He helped establish the National Athletic Training Association and served in various leadership capacities in the American Physical Therapy Association, the Nebraska Medical Association, the Nebraska State Board of Health, and the American Society for Testing and Materials F-8 Committee.

He was inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame and the National Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame. He also served on the national boards of advisors for athletic apparel and medical companies, such as his work helping Nike design their first football cleat.

George was also a Master Mason, Shriner and member of the Scottish Right. He and his wife were longtime members of St. Mark’s Church in Lincoln.

George was a devoted Christian and family man. He married Genie in 1951 and together they had three children, nine grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his wife, Genie, sons, Gary and Glen, and grandson, Kyle.

He is survived by his son, Greg Sullivan (Linda) and many loved ones.

Funeral Service was held Friday, January 4, 2019 at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Lincoln.

Memorials may be given to the George Finley Sullivan Endowed Scholarship Fund ( or checks to Husker Athletic Fund - please note the Sullivan Scholarship), St. Mark’s Church, or the National Athletic Trainers Association.

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