Previously published in the 2018 Ouachitonian yearbook.
The last time Denis Sullins was on campus was in 1973. He was here for one semester before leaving, partly for financial reasons and partly because he did not feel ready for college. Then he got caught up in life, marriage, kids and a job, and college seemed like a thing of the past. But then he lost his wife, Karen.
“We’d been married 11 years when she passed away,” Sullins said, “but she had a lot of health issues. She had Hodgkin disease as a teenager, and so they did radiation all in the chest area and the neck. Forty years later, the radiation started affecting everything – affected her lungs, affected her heart and affected her neck muscles.”
Following her death, Sullins decided to return to school. When he was a student in 1973, he was a music major because he saw Ouachita’s Singing Men perform at a church in St. Louis, Mo.
“And now, after my wife passed away and I got forced into an early retirement from my job, I decided to come back and finish what I started a long time ago,” said Sullins.
When Sullins was working in Illinois, he took business courses at the local community college, so when he moved back to Arkadelphia, he started the semester as a junior. Sullins also became a business administration/marketing major instead of continuing in music. Some of his classes went over the skills he used for the past 40 years, while others presented new ideas. Along with classes, Sullins also enjoyed campus activities. He pledged in spring to the men of Eta Alpha Omega and regularly attended Refuge. Overall, the Ouachita community was an encouragement to Sullins, he said.
“I have to say that the students around here have really been good to me,” Sullins said. “I really appreciate that because I was a little bit leery coming back as an older student and thought that I’d maybe be made fun of or something like that. But, they’ve all been really supportive.”
As for what to do after graduation, Sullins did not have a set plan. But, this did not worry him.
“I came here because I felt God was leading me to come here,” Sullins said. “I tell people that He hasn’t let me know what I’m supposed to do next. But I’m here because God wanted me here, and I guess He’ll let me know what to do when the time comes.”
By Brooke Woessner
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