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Legendary Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) John A. Mulligan of the Connecticut State Police (CSP) died of cancer at age 78 on June 18. John succumbed to bone and lung cancer, but only after one hell of a fight. John was a warrior and he would not go gentle into the good night, but when the time came to pass he was surrounded by the people he loved and at the place he wanted to be.
John was as honest, loyal, and dedicated as anyone could be to the Department, his family, and friends. Clearly, he bled the royal blue and gold of the CSP. He never swerved from the path of duty and would always lend a hand to anyone in need. As a boss, there was none better. Although he had a notable bark, his bite was always gentle, if at all.
To many, Commissioner Les Forst was one of the finest commanders the State Police had ever experienced and for more than eight years John was his executive officer, right hand, and lifelong friend. Hundreds of Troopers led by Forst and Mulligan quelled the 1981 uprising at the state’s maximum security prison in Somers without a shot being fired nor injury to Troopers or prisoners. In state police lore it became legend.
John was also proud of his service in the Emergency Services Unit, serving as one of the first bomb technicians and later became its commanding officer. However, during his 26 years of service he never pulled his gun out of its holster, knowing the seriousness of such an action. He was frequently called “Irish,” a nickname given to him by Captain Wilford Belfour and by his friends and for good reason; he was incredibly proud of his heritage. If you were a friend of John’s you were truly blessed and if you just made his acquaintance, you knew immediately he was special.
John too was blessed with an incredible wingman (or in this case woman) in his wife Mary Ellen. There was never a moment when she didn’t have his back. They were inseparable and, as the cancer took its toll, she was his rock. In John’s final years, he was able to publish “My Memories of the Connecticut State Police,” written in his self-effacing style and paying tribute to the friendships and organization he loved. In many ways, that was John’s way of saying “thank you” and farewell to the people and organization he cared about the most.
Besides his loving and dedicated wife Mary Ellen, John leaves behind his stepdaughters Kristen Roberts and Sharyn Lemley and stepson Michael Lemley and step-granddaughter Katharine (his pride and joy), his cousin Hugh Mulligan, and several nieces and nephews. He is further survived by his special friend Jay Rankin. He was predeceased by his sister Maureen Bilger and his parents John F. and Dolorita Mulligan.
John was a lifetime member of the Connecticut State Police Alumni Association and an avid boater who held a Coast Guard sea captain license. For many years post retirement he worked in various capacities for the Cross Sound Ferry and enjoyed winters in Stuart, Florida.
Donations in his name can be made to the Connecticut State Police Academy Alumni Association (CSPAAA), 1111 Country Club Rd., Middletown, CT 06457. A Visitation was held on June 22 at the Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home, 34 Main St. in Centerbrook, CT 06409. A Funeral Mass was celebrated June 23 at St. John’s Catholic Church, 161 Main St., in Old Saybrook, CT 06475. For online condolences, please visit the funeral website at www.rwwfh.com. Arrangements are by the Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home, in Centerbrook.
The 2020 guide to the Madison Chamber of Commerce has arrived!