Del Mar resident a friend of parks

Joe Sullivan is president of Friends of Del Mar Parks, the nonprofit group working to save the former Del Mar Shores school property as a community park.

Sullivan was born and raised in San Diego. He earned an undergraduate degree in liberal arts from San Diego State, where he met his wife, Alice.

After serving as a shipboard engineering officer in the Navy during the Vietnam conflict, Sullivan earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Sullivan’s business career was in the Bay Area, where he co-founded Flextronics, a leading electronics manufacturer.

He moved to Del Mar in 1989 and retired as chief executive officer of Flextronics in 1993. Sullivan is a past president of the Del Mar Foundation. In the 1990s, he was active in fundraising campaigns for the Del Mar library and Powerhouse Community Center.

What brought you to Del Mar?

Our search for the perfect beach town within 30 minutes of a major airport.

What makes Del Mar special to you?

The beach, our neighbors, the lifeguards and other city employees, and the many community organizations that allow us to pretend we live in a small town even though we are surrounded by a dense metropolitan area. At this moment, I especially appreciate the many folks who have contributed more than $5 million toward the $8.5 million needed to purchase the Shores Park.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Del Mar?

I would find a donor who would like to pay off the mortgage on the Shores property as a commemorative gift to the community. Then I would see the property renovated as a vibrant community multiuse park and playground.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by an appreciation for my good fortune in time and place of birth.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Jimmy Buffett, Warren Buffett, Jimmy Carter, Richard Lerner, Steve Martin, Suzanne Somers, Wanda Sykes and the generous donor who decides to make a naming gift to the park.

What are you currently reading?

I am re-reading classic novels I was forced to read in high school. I’ve just finished Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises.” I am beginning Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” As you would expect, the novels are more meaningful to me now than in 11th grade.

What is your most prized possession?

My father’s Bulova watch.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy a regular Saturday morning volleyball game on the beach. I own the equipment, so my buddies have to let me play.

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

Getting an education.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

From my Cub Scout days: Leave it better than you find it.