Walter S. Sullivan (1918–1996)



On March 19, 1996, the scientific community lost one of its greatest champions and chroniclers, Walter S. Sullivan. He died in his home in Riverside, Conn.

Sullivan was the first recipient of the American Geophysical Union's Award for Excellence in Science Journalism, which appropriately bears his name. Born on January 18, 1918, he joined The New York Times as a copy boy in 1940. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he became a foreign correspondent for the Times in 1946, only making a definitive switch to science reporting 10 years later, immediately before the International Geophysical Year, whose story he eloquently detailed. He joined AGU in 1957 and remained a member until his death. In 1962, he became the science news editor of the Times and, from 1964 until his retirement in 1987, he was the overall science editor. He continued his science writing into retirement, coming into the office to write an occasional article until shortly before his death.