On a day when you might expect the tears to flow, a Beale Street style home-going celebration of life had more than just "Irish eyes smiling." Hundreds lined a parade route less than an hour after funeral services for legendary Beale Street impresario Thomas "Silky" Sullivan had concluded in East Memphis. Tourists who'd never met the affable and flamboyant club owner earnestly joined those whose lives he'd become an integral part of for years in happily commemorating a man who relished in bringing people together.
‘He touched many lives. When you stand on a corner for 18 years and you're constantly talking to people. And when they say they're from Elkhart, Indiana...he knows somebody from Elkhart. The guy is just incredible. He is the most personable person, I think I ever met," Performa Entertainment president John Elkington said.
You couldn't help but marvel at the spontaneity of the event which was a true reflection of the man himself. Black and white. Young and old. The poor and the powerful....stood shoulder to shoulder in tribute to a man who never used color, wealth or fame as a calling card when it came to greeting friend or stranger at his business. That's why so many people felt Sullivan was the perfect ambassador for a city that prides itself in spreading the gospel of "humble abode." From Paris to Rome. From Russia to Cuba...."Silky" told all who would listen about what made where he came from so beloved to him.
"He cared more about Memphis than basically anyone I know and he promoted the city wherever he went," Elkington said.
"I believe in Memphis. It's a great city. Great place. Great place to live," Sullivan said.
And as the hearse carrying Sullivan's body stopped in front of the Beale Street establishment he so treasured one last time....there was a goodbye toast to a colorful Irishman who knew how to get the most out of life....and encouraged others to do the same.