William A. “Bill” Sulahian, a long time resident of Shelter Island, died peacefully in Eastern Long Island Hospital on Sept. 30, 2019 after a brief illness. He was 91 years old. A practicing attorney for more than 50 years, Sulahian served a term as Shelter Island Town Justice from 2003 to 2007.
Born in Weehauken, N.J. on Sept. 19, 1928, Bill Sulahian grew up in Rego Park, N.Y. before graduating from Roanoke College in Virginia in 1950. He entered service in the U.S. Air Force in 1951, where he piloted F-94 Starfire Interceptor fighter jets. He was honorably discharged from service in 1961 with the rank of captain. While still on active duty, Mr. Sulahian entered New York Law School, graduating with his juris doctor degree in 1961. In July of that year, he married his wife of 58 years, Patricia Mellem, in her native California.
The couple settled in Rockville Centre, N.Y., where Bill opened a private law practice after working for several firms in New York City. Mr. Sulahian’s thriving practice would eventually bring him to Shelter Island, and it soon became a second home for the Sulahians and their five children. Bill was quickly absorbed into the Shelter Island community. An avid golfer, Bill became an active member of Gardiner’s Bay Country Club and was proud of his several club championship trophies. He served as President of the Club from 1978 to 1980 and 1984 to 1987. Bill was also an active member of Lions International for over 50 years, first in Rockville Centre and later on Shelter Island. He was awarded a Melvin Jones Fellowship and Life Member status for his service to the association and those in need.
Bill Sulahian became a full time resident of Shelter Island in 2000 and was a fixture in his law office behind the Tuck Shop, a business owned and operated by his wife Pat for 43 years. In 2003, local Republicans asked Mr. Sulahian to be their candidate for Town Justice. He retired from the bench in 2007, having earned a reputation as a firm, fair and amiable jurist. He continued in the practice of law until his retirement in 2012.
Bill Sulahian is survived by his wife Pat, and his children, Gregory (Debbie), William “Billy”, and Susie Richards (Walter) of Shelter Island, and Marie Torry (Mason) of Gypsum, Colo., and Carol Hansen (Christian) of Rockville Centre. He leaves behind 12 grandchildren, Adrian Sulahian, Alexis Sulahian Heaney, Sara Fisher, Katie Goodleaf, John Goodleaf, Danny Anderson, Haley Sulahian, Scott Smith, Walter Richards Jr., Jane Richards, Karen Hansen and Madeline Hansen. He will be missed by his adoring great-grandchildren Weston and Ford Heaney and Hayden and Hadley Anderson. He is also survived by his sister Vivianne Lindemann (Mark) of Shelter Island. He is predeceased by his sister Doris Puelle (Fred).
A memorial service celebrating the life of Bill Sulahian will be held at the Shelter Island Fire Department’s Center Firehouse, 49 North Ferry Road, on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 11 a.m. All who wish to celebrate with us are welcome.
Donations can be made to Shelter Island Lions Club or American Legion Mitchell Post 281.