Cover photo for William "Tocco" Sullivan's Obituary
William "Tocco" Sullivan Profile Photo

William "Tocco" Sullivan

March 12, 1939 — June 6, 2022

Respected Jurist, devoted Husband, Brother, Dad and Son of Waterbury

WATERBURY – Chief Justice William “Tocco” Sullivan age 83 of Waterbury passed away peacefully surrounded by the love and comfort of his family on June 6, 2022 at the Vitas Innovative Care Unit of St. Mary’s Hospital. He was the devoted husband of Marylou (Christiano) Sullivan.

The Honorable Judge Sullivan was born on March 12, 1939 in Waterbury CT, the son of the late Timothy and Margaret (McKeown) Sullivan. He was educated in local schools, graduated from Sacred Heart High School, Providence College, and received his law degree at the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary in Virginia in 1965. He proudly served his country with the U.S. Army as a highly decorated Captain and served a tour in Vietnam, where his conduct earned him several awards including two Bronze Stars and an Air Medal. Following his service to his country, Judge Sullivan went into private law practice and also served as the City of Waterbury’s Corporation Counsel. Former Gov. Ella Grasso, appointed him as a Superior Court judge in 1978. He was elevated to the state Appellate Court in 1997 on Republican Gov. John Rowland’s nomination and became chief justice in 2001, also nominated by Rowland. Sullivan retired later in 2006 and took senior justice status, which allowed him to continue to hear some cases. Current Chief Justice Richard Robinson said of Judge Sullivan; “He was a giant who inspired many, and while it’s often said that no one is irreplaceable, there was only one Tocco Sullivan.” Robinson said what stood out about Sullivan was his dedication to public service and deep devotion and loyalty to his family and friends.
“It is without doubt that Chief Justice Sullivan has made a lasting impact in Connecticut, having served as a judge for nearly three decades and authoring hundreds of opinions that continue to impact our legal system today," Governor Ned Lamont said.
Tocco was fond of saying “although I made hundreds of good decisions, legal and otherwise in my life , the best decision I ever made was on October 11, 1969 when I married my love, Mary Lou Christiano” who was his adoring and devoted wife of 53 years. He treasured his family vacation each August where his first stop was not where the hotel was or where the beach or amusement park or best restaurants were, but rather where the closest Catholic church was and what time mass began.

Tocco was an avid sports fan and found profound joy that his four boys followed in his footsteps in their love of sports. When his children were younger, he and Mary Lou spent their days shuttling their boys and their friends to and from their many sporting events. He never missed a game, often sitting in the stands with the New York Post in hand. Tocco was a die-hard Yankee fan as are three of his four sons. He enjoyed nothing more than watching the Yanks beat the dreaded Red Sox while also frequently reminding his son Greg, the error of ways in choosing to be a Mets fan. Tocco loved Notre Dame football but not even the Fighting Irish afternoon games could keep him from his Saturday mass. In his later years, he and Mary Lou enjoyed their time vacationing in West Palm Beach, Florida where he always felt his best.
Most importantly, Tocco adored his 11 precious grandchildren and enjoyed nothing more than spending as much time as possible with them.

In service to his beloved Waterbury, Tocco volunteered for many service organizations including the Robert Westberg Scholarship Fund for children of deceased Waterbury Police Officers, he was a member of the CT Justice Commission, The CT Judges Committee, the Supreme Court Rules Committee and many more. He was also the recipient of numerous awards and honors including; Honorary Doctorate of Law, Providence College, Doctorate Honoris Causa, Post University, and an Honorary Doctorate of Law, Quinnipiac College. He was a member of the Mattatuck VFW Post #8705 and the American Legion Post # 18. All of his accomplishments and honors pale in comparison to his concern and love for his wife, his family and his, City of Waterbury. Tocco lived life to the fullest, blessed by the love of family and friends. He was a devout Catholic and belonged to both the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and SS Peter & Paul Church. His family would like to thank the many doctors, nurses and support staff who cared for Tocco through the years and provided him with the best care possible.

Left to honor his legacy and cherish his memory beside his adoring wife, Mary Lou are his children: Timothy and his wife Kim of Middlebury, Paul and his wife Alison of Winter Garden, FL, Gregory and his wife Meghan of Middlebury and Michael and his wife Marisa of Watertown, his brother Timothy Sullivan and his wife Lavera of PA, and his sister, Mary Sullivan of Waterbury. Tocco and Mary Lou were blessed with 11 grandchildren; Will, Steven, Claire, Elizabeth, Colleen, Elle, Brynn, Faye, Rory, Tommy and Camille. He also leaves his sister-in-law, Sylvia Coviello and her husband Jim and his brother-in-law Paul Doyle. He was predeceased by his sister, Margaret Doyle.

Nothing was more important to Tocco than his love for his family, faith, country, the Law, and the City of Waterbury. He was the best son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and friend we could have asked for and he will be missed forever.

Funeral services for Chief Justice Sullivan will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2022 at 11:30 a.m. when a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception with his Excellency the Most Rev Daniel Cronin, Archbishop of Hartford (Ret) as Principal Celebrant. Those planning to attend are asked to arrive at the Basilica by 11:15 a.m. Burial with full military honors will follow in Calvary Cemetery. Relatives and friends may visit with the Sullivan family on Friday, June 10, 2022 from 4:00 till 8:00 p.m at Casey’s Eastside Memorial Funeral Home and Cremation Care 1987 East Main St @ Southmayd Rd. To honor Judge Sullivan's memory donations to the Wounded Warrior Project at would be greatly appreciated by his family. Loving-kindness is always welcome, and it only takes a moment to offer a message of condolence, words of comfort, or share a memory with the family and friends of someone important to you. Please do that on the funeral home tribute page at . However, if you are able, attending a service is a thoughtful, caring, and supportive thing to do.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of William "Tocco" Sullivan, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, June 10, 2022

4:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Casey's Eastside Memorial Funeral Home & Cremation Care

1987 East Main Street
Waterbury, CT 06705

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Saturday, June 11, 2022

11:30am - 12:30 pm (Eastern time)

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Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

74 West Main Street
Waterbury, CT 06702

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