Jack L. Sutton Sr. (1929 - 2009)

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  • "Bonnie and Family- I will miss seeing Jack each time I..."
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Jack LeRoy Sutton Sr. of Fairview passed away on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009, of natural causes. He was born June 10, 1929, in Wichita, Kan., and adopted by Roy and Ethel Sutton.

Jack is survived by a sister, Jill Sutton Davenport, and a brother, Jerry White.

Jack attended school in Hutchinson, Kan., before moving to Billings when he was in junior high, where his father went into the grocery business. He graduated from Billings Senior High School in 1947. He attended both Montana State University, Billings and Bozeman and earned his bachelor's degree in education from The University of Montana in Missoula.

During World War II he worked for Western Union delivering telegrams by bicycle, which was always a sad memory for Jack as he knew he was taking information to parents and other loved ones about someone in the war.

Jack and Bonnie Burton were married in Billings in 1960 and have three children: Jack Jr. (Elaine) of Madison, Conn.; Pamela (Art) of Kennewick, Wash., and Robert, currently living in Tripoli, Libya. They also have two grandchildren, Robert and Randi (parents, Pamela and Art), and numerous nieces and nephews.

Jack and Bonnie moved to Fairview in 1961 where Jack became a high school teacher. Over the next 30 years he taught a variety of courses including English, literature, history, civics, drama and driver's education. He was junior class advisor and sold tickets at all of the school sports events.

Jack deeply loved teaching. He loved greeting the people he knew so well, either by having them as students, by knowing them through belonging to Jaycees or Fairview Lions Club, or by visiting with them at the grocery stores and cafes. He was a constant teacher and had an unfulfilled longing for information. He read history and philosophy and worked the Sunday crossword puzzles to keep increasing his love of vocabulary. Every situation gave cause for a story, and he seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of so many subjects. He couldn't walk by someone with just a hello, he had to know what was going on in their life. He loved class reunions so he could find out what each person was doing.

Even after he retired from classroom teaching, it was important for him to be at school the first day of every school year to watch the excitement of the new year starting. When he taught literature, it was important to him that the students relate to the details of the novel. He carried this love of character and plot into directing plays both during the school year and during the summer festival. Calls and visits from former students thanking him for what he gave them always pleased and surprised Jack. He touched the lives of hundreds of young people with kindness and encouragement and is to be honored as a remarkable teacher.

He also worked for the highway department in south central Montana and for 7-Up Bottling Company in Billings. He had a strong work ethic and started his children delivering the Billings Gazette and eventually took over the daily walk himself, not retiring from that job until a year ago.

At his request, cremation has taken place.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

A memorial service celebrating Jack's life will be held in Fairview this summer during Old Timer's Festival.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Jack's name to the charity of the donor's choice, or to Fairview High School, Fairview, MT 59221.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service; www.dokkennelson.com.
Funeral Home
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
(406) 587-3184
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Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Dec. 1, 2009
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