Man of modest means will leave lasting mark on cancer
Joe Sullivan is a man of modest means, a huge heart and an iron-willed determination to help as many
people as possible for many years to come. The 83-year-old Sacramento area resident recently gave his
beloved two-bedroom house "pretty much all I have," he says to UC Davis Medical Center to help fund
His retained life estate gift deeded his home to the medical center while allowing him to live there
as long as he wants or is able. It's a simple arrangement that allows homeowners to make a powerful, lasting
gift to help advance the medical center's mission and work. Sullivan's gift will go to a long-established
cancer research fund in the Department of Internal Medicine that has been building slowly but steadily
over time, says Frederick Meyers, professor and chair of the department.
"Joe's generous gift puts us over the top," Meyers said. "We're now very close to an endowed professorship
for our research fund, so his gift truly has meaning far beyond the monetary value of his estate."
To Sullivan, a tall, lanky man with twinkling eyes and a wealth of stories from a colorful, hardworking
life, the retained life estate agreement was a good arrangement for everyone involved. The proceeds the
future sale of his house in one of Northern California's most vibrant real estate markets is a significant
gift that will help fund a medical research endowment
"I feel real, real good about it," said Sullivan. "I like the idea of helping people, especially helping
the sick. And I like the idea of doing things my way. This is how I chose to take care of this part of
Sullivan's gift to UC Davis Medical Center is more than a house and lot. It's the culmination of a lifetime
of work that began when he went to work as a 5-year-old in the cotton fields and cornfields of his father's
farm in Augusta, Ga. After serving in an African-American U.S. Army regiment in England during World War
II, Sullivan settled in California. He worked for and owned several businesses over the years, including
a body and fender shop and industrial painting and trucking businesses, before retiring well into his
Recently, Sullivan began to think about getting his estate in order. Divorced with no children and a
scattered family, he wanted to make sure things were, as he puts it, "all tied up." Sullivan wanted to
donate his house and land to a cause he deemed worthy.
Sullivan became aware and deeply moved, he said of how research at UC Davis Medical Center was having
a direct, positive impact on people's lives. He contacted Eileen Hamilton, planned giving counsel, to
discuss his wishes. Hamilton suggested a retained life estate, and he found that it met all of his needs.
Meyers has visited Sullivan several times, and the two have become friends. Meyers said he continues
to be moved by Sullivan's life and generosity. "He's one of those people who has seen a lot of the world,
both good and bad, yet he has a wonderful, clear-eyed and positive outlook on life and his fellow human
beings. His gift is an expression of what a wonderful man he is."
For information about bequests, charitable remainder trusts and gift annuities, please contact Eileen
Hamilton, planned giving counsel, at (916) 734-9418 or firstname.lastname@example.org