Debbie Sullivan, S.E.C.: Biography

Debbie Sullivan Biography
Debbie Sullivan, S.E.C., was born in Charlottesville, Virginia. As a child, she moved with her mother and father, Hattie and Elbert Steele, to Mount Airy, North Carolina, which she referred to as “Mayberry.” It turns out that Mount Airy is the hometown of the actor Andy Griffith and the inspiration for the fictional town of Mayberry in The Andy Griffith Show. Debbie’s childhood memories include her and her cousins at their grandparents’ farm. Of course, she also remembers her younger brother David driving her crazy as he took apart her bicycle. David is now an engineer and lives 30 miles from Death Valley.

Debbie later moved to El Paso, Texas, where she attended Texas Western University (now known as University of Texas El Paso). It was here that she met her first husband, a contractor, and was married in 1957. It was also here that Debbie had what she classifies as the most important achievement of her life. In 1960, her only daughter Tracey was born. Tracey now lives in Arlington, TX, with Debbie’s two grandchildren — Christian and Tara. That Debbie would give this as her greatest achievement gives a good window to where Debbie places the most value in life — her family. The interview for this biography was taken with her grandson Christian in attendance. She told stories of picnics with Christian in his childhood that he did not remember, but she certainly did. This had extra meaning to an interviewer that had lost his grandfather two years prior but remembers a similar interview in which stories were told that he had never heard before. Another story that made Debbie laugh was when she and her daughter tried to have a birthday party at the park in Arlington for Tara. Apparently, it was very windy and the tablecloths, balloons, etc. went flying. This adventure ended with the “picnic” in Tracey’s garage.

Debbie moved to California where she got her insurance and real estate licenses in 1966. This experience is what taught her that she “hated residential.” In 1971, Debbie and Tracey moved to Washington where Debbie still resides. It was here that Debbie met her best client and mentor, Arch MacDonald. She says that this meeting is her best real estate moment. “He helped more than anyone else to make me realize I could do this too, and to go for it.” Debbie tells stories of working on transactions with Arch, including the time she stood in the rain in soaked high heels working with him to acquire a 1,000-acre development.

Debbie is currently still developing properties in Washington. While she used to spend some of her off time playing bridge, unfortunately her bridge buddies have since passed away and she is seldom able to play anymore. Golf used to be one of her favorite hobbies, but she has given it up as well, which she said was extremely difficult to do. Nowadays, Debbie does a lot of reading, gardening, and entertaining.

Debbie says the most exciting transaction she ever worked on never came together. It was in 1978 and involved an 8,000-acre ranch with 128 irrigation circles. The offer price on the property was $18M. Three French citizens had agreed to the purchase, but the deal hit a snag due to the French government not allowing the money to leave the country. In true creative real estate fashion, there was a plan developed to try to get the money into machinery and then ship the machinery to the US and sell for cash here, but that was not to be either, and the transaction fell apart anyway.

Debbie says her greatest S.E.C. moment was when she received the call that she was elected to Counselor status. She had missed the meeting due to an ice storm and couldn’t get to the airport. “I was so elated!” She said she and her friends really partied that night. Debbie is still very grateful to Ron Bowden who originally invited Debbie to a meeting and acted as one of her sponsors.

It seems best to end with Debbie’s philosophy on real estate in that it appears to be the best summation of Debbie as a person, Realtor and S.E.C. — “Always put the client first — period!”

Comments are closed.