Paul E. Sullivan, an analyst with the U.S. Defense Department who won an important civil-rights victory in 1969 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the whites-only membership policy of his Fairfax County, Va., swimming pool club, has died. He was 87.

Sullivan died March 14 of complications of a stroke at his Fairfax County home, his daughter Maria Sullivan said last week.

In 1965, Sullivan, who was white, moved from his home in Fairfax County’s Bucknell Manor development and rented it to Theodore Freeman, an African American economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who lived there with his wife and two children.

When Sullivan bought the home, it came with membership in the nearby Little Hunting Park swim club; the club’s bylaws allowed the membership to be assigned to tenants. But when the Freemans tried to claim their membership, the club refused to admit them. Sullivan, who lived nearby and was still a member, complained to the board, which responded by expelling him and his family.

Sullivan was incensed. “Here is a Christian community that talked about decency, fair play and sportsmanship, and they were treating people like this,” he told the Washington Post several years later.

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