Richard Paul Sullivan

Richard Paul Sullivan, a former chairman and CEO of Easco Corp. who had been active in Republican state politics and civic affairs, died Sunday of cancer at his Owings Mills home.

The longtime Guilford resident was 79.

Mr. Sullivan, whose father was president of the American Girl Shoe Co. and whose mother was a homemaker, was born and raised in Newton, Mass.

After graduating in 1950 from St. Sebastian's School in Milton, Mass., he earned a bachelor's degree in 1954 in marine engineering from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

From 1954 to 1956, he served in the Navy as an intelligence officer and earned a master's degree in business in 1958 from the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business.

Mr. Sullivan was a partner in the financial consulting firm of Turnbull, Deter & Sullivan in Charlottesville, Va., and he joined Eastern Stainless Steel Corp. — later Easco Corp. — in 1963.

He was promoted to secretary-treasurer in 1964, and two years later, was named executive vice president of the Baltimore-based company, which made mechanics' hand tools and extruded-aluminum products.

Mr. Sullivan was appointed president of the company and in 1973 was given additional duties when elected chairman and CEO.

One of his achievements came in 1984 when Easco ranked 222 in the Fortune 500 listing because of a 10-year 18.7 percent annual return to shareholders predicated on sales of $571 million.

When Washington-based Equity Group Holdings Inc. became new owners of the company, it fired him in 1985.

In a lawsuit filed that year, Mr. Sullivan contended that the owners failed to meet the salary terms of his contract. A 1987 federal court decision awarded him more than $1 million in severance pay, attorneys' fees and interest.

Mr. Sullivan joined Baker Watts & Co. as senior vice president in its corporate finance department in 1987, a position he held until stepping down in 1993.

"We had been social friends, and then he joined Baker Watts. I thought he was a great businessman and always did a great job," said Peter Rosenwald, who is now senior vice president and financial consultant at RBC Wealth Management.

"He was a very outgoing man with a dry sense of humor, who always kept his cards close to his vest," said Mr. Rosenwald.

Mr. Sullivan had been a director of the National Association of Manufacturers. His corporate directorships included Noxell Corp., Monumental Corp., Equitable Corp., Light Street Income Fund Inc. and Planning Research Corp.

Long active in local Republican Party affairs, Mr. Sullivan made his first foray into politics when he announced in early 1986 his candidacy for the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Charles McC. Mathias Jr., who was retiring.

Five months later, trailing in polls behind Linda Chavez, a Reagan White House staffer, and Baltimore lawyer J. Michael Schaefer, Mr. Sullivan decided to withdraw from the contest.

He was elected chairman of the state Republican Party a month later, serving for a year.

"He never ran for public office again," said a son, Brian F. Sullivan of Medina, Minn.

Mr. Sullivan's civic presence was strong in Baltimore.

During the mayoral administration of William Donald Schaefer, he was a member of Mr. Schaefer's Business Advisory Council.

He was a trustee of the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business and Towson University's College of Business and Economics.

Mr. Sullivan also served from 1975 to 1978 as a member of the advisory committee of what is now Stevenson University.

He was campaign chairman in 1977 of the United Way of Central Maryland, where he had also served as vice chairman of its board and was board chairman in 1991. He was Maryland chairman from 1984 to 1985 of the U.S. Savings Bond Campaign.

The former longtime Greenway resident, who moved to Owings Mills last year, was a member of the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, where he enjoyed golfing.

"My father was the most humble and gracious man I ever knew," his son said.

Mr. Sullivan liked taking his French poodles on daily walks.

"He'd walk four miles a day with his dogs," his son said.

He was a communicant of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

Services are private.

Also surviving are his wife of 51 years, the former Ellen Brantlinger; another son, Craig D. Sullivan of Roland Park; a daughter, Hilary S. Laing of Belmont, Mass.; two brothers, David Sullivan of Ruxton and Donald Sullivan of Jupiter, Fla.; and six grandchildren.