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Moment of Silence
Francis W. "Sully" Sullivan
(April 2, 1920 to Jan. 1, 2013)

Francis Sullivan was recognized as one of the pioneers of stamped and textured concrete and an acknowledged expert in the field. In 1970 he became the Bomanite Corporation's first franchise partner, a contractor licensed to use the ornamental concrete process.

Francis Sullivan "Sully" was a ninth generation Californian on his mother's side; his grandfather was one of the first general contractors in California. As a teenager he helped his grandfather make concrete piers. He showed an interest in architecture, and his father pushed him to take up drafting.

Sully aspired to play baseball and did play some games with the Pacific Coast Triple A Ball League. Baseball was put aside, however, after the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Sully joined the Coast Guard in 1942 and was assigned to the Seadrift, an 86-foot schooner, teaching seamanship to recruits on Catalina Island. He was then assigned to the Portola, an 88-foot yacht. In 1943 he married the girl next door, his childhood sweetheart. Sully was introduced to Brad Bowman in 1964. In 1955 Bowman developed the "Bomanite" process of imprinting concrete for use on the village sidewalks in Carmel, Calif. He called this early version of stamped concrete "ornamental concrete." Bowman, refined and expanded his process until 1970 when he established the Bomanite Corporation and began establishing franchises. Sully's interest in architecture and drafting experience came in handy when he went to work for Bowman in Sept. 1964 installing stamped concrete in Southern California. He started out doing driveways and walkways as a foreman with a crew of four. A friend at the American Institute of Architects advised him to connect with landscape architects. Sully hooked up with Lifescapes, headed by the iconoclastic Don Brinkerhoff.

When World War II hit, Sully (top row, second from left) joined the Coast Guard. In 1942 he was assigned to the Seadrift, an 86-foot schooner, teaching seamanship to the men who were in boot camp on Catalina Island.

Then Sully came to the attention of Courtland Paul, founder of the Peridian Group, a Newport Beach, Calif. landscape architectural firm that designed landscapes for golf courses, hotels and theme parks. Sully worked with Peridian to design new stamped concrete patterns.

In 1970 Sully became the Bomanite Corporation's first franchise partner, a contractor licensed to use the ornamental concrete process. Sully's company was Sullivan Concrete Textures, located in Costa Mesa, Calif. Bomanite Corp. honored him with a lifetime achievement award in 2005.

Many stamped concrete patterns like this Bomanite imprint at South Coast Village in Santa, Ana, Calif. were originally developed for specific projects. The "fish scale" tool used here was designed by Don Brinkerhoff of Lifescapes, and become a popular motif. Brinkerhoff was among the landscape architects who worked with Sully.

Sully was a member of the California Landscape Architectural Student Scholarship Fund (CLASS Fund), and served two terms as chairman of the board. It was at a function of the CLASS Fund that Sully met a young enterprising ad salesman named George Schmok. Mr. Schmok was endeavoring to begin publishing a magazine for landscape architects. Sully helped fund the aspiring publisher to begin Landscape Architect and Specifier News, a magazine now in its 29th year of publication that goes to 20, 969 licensed landscape architects, nearly every licensed L.A., and has a total distribution of 50,634 (print and digital formats).

The Bomanite Corp. honored Sully with a lifetime achievement award in 2005.

For more about Sully see Profile: Francis "Sully" Sullivan, The King of Stamped Concrete by Leslie McGuire managing editor, Landscape Contractor National magazine, March 2007 issue.

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December 6, 2019, 1:40 pm PDT

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