Edward John "Ted" Sullivan was a confectionery salesman for Cartwright's and husband of Doris Sullivan. Ted and Doris had no children and lived in a big house at 16 Highbank Avenue, Oakhill. Some years before 1992, Doris drowned in a fishing accident.
As he approached retirement age, Ted had a number of health problems. He had an operation to remove a brain tumour but was warned that, should he develop another tumour, nothing could be done. A second brain tumour did in fact follow, and although Ted consulted a number of specialists, the prognosis remained that it would be fatal and he had a few years at most.
Ted decided to enjoy his last days and made plans to retire, arranging for his nephew Roger Brookes to replace him at work as Roger had followed him into the sales business. His retirement caught the attention of job-seeking salesman Derek Wilton, who invited him to a meal at 4 Coronation Street with the intention of putting himself forward for Ted's job. It was here that Ted embarked on a friendship with Rita Fairclough, having known her as a business acquaintance via his calls to The Kabin for about twenty years, as they got talking when Derek's hopes of a job were dashed. They went on a few dates together and Ted found that Rita made him happy. He told her he was thinking of moving to Florida and asked her to marry him so they could retire there together. Rita was going to refuse at first as Ted wasn't the passionate type she usually favoured, but she then changed her mind and told him she would marry him.
Ted helped Rita to organise the sale of 7 Coronation Street and The Kabin and the couple went to Florida to look for a house there. On their return, Ted told Rita about his brain tumour and offered her the chance to back out of their engagement if it was too much for her. Rita felt angry as she thought she'd found happiness for the rest of her life, and she and Ted avoided each other for a short time, although once she came to terms with it, Rita decided that she would still marry Ted, but stipulated that they didn't move to Florida as she wanted to have her friends around her when Ted died. Ted understood and accepted.
Over the next few months, Ted started exhibiting more symptoms of his illness. On the day of the wedding, Ted saw a doctor for numb hands and was told he wouldn't be able to drive again. Their register office wedding was witnessed by Derek and Mavis Wilton, Bet Gilroy, and Alf and Audrey Roberts. Rita had told Audrey about the brain tumour but no one else. As time went on, and Ted moved into Rita's flat, his health deteriorated and when he slurred his speech, Rita tried to cover for him but Derek came away with the idea that Ted was an alcoholic. Bet too was worried as she'd noticed Rita's sadness and was cool towards Ted, thinking he might have married Rita for her money. Rita persuaded Ted to tell the Wiltons but he was guarded where his illness was concerned, and hadn't even told his sister, Sarah Brookes. He didn't like Rita fussing and insisted on doing the gardening at his house while it was up for sale. However, he made some concessions to Rita, as she got so worried when he went on a long walk without telling her that she made him agree to phone her regularly to put her mind at ease. A short time later, he was found slumped in an alley and taken to hospital. His disappearance had panicked Rita, who reported him as a missing person. On one occasion, he had a memory lapse and thought Rita was Doris.
After a difficult few weeks, Ted died on 9th September 1992 while sitting on a bench at Weatherfield Bowling Green watching a match between Percy Sugden and Cyril Jukes. Rita found him apparently asleep but quickly realised he was dead. Ted was cremated and had arranged his own funeral. He left £2,000 to Sarah, £1,000 each to Roger and Philip Brookes, and the rest of his estate to Rita, including the house.