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Robert E. "Bob" Sutton

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Robert E. "Bob" Sutton Notice
Sutton, Robert E. "Bob" Age 79. Passed away on March 19, 2016, of advanced Parkinson's disease. He was preceded in death by his father, Francis Sutton, mother Alva Massey, and former wife, Paula (Gavin) Sutton. He is survived by his longtime beloved companion, Irene Walther, four children, Chris, Tierney, and twins Damon and Gregory, two daughters-in-law, Liz Sutton and Genny Alvarez, four grandchildren, and his step-siblings Richard and Kay. Bob had great admiration and affection for his talented and accomplished children, and his spirited grandchildren. A native of Denver, Colorado, he graduated from Regis College, and attended Marquette University Law School on scholarship, graduating in 1960. After law school, he served in the United States Air Force as a Captain in the Judge Advocate General's Office. He returned to Wisconsin where he practiced as a trial lawyer in the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office and the Attorney General's Office. From 1970 until a few years ago he was in private practice, both solo and successively in partnership with attorneys Harry Samson and Harold Nash, Robert Friebert, Allen Samson, John Finerty, and Walter Kelly. Bob was a skilled and colorful, old-fashioned trial lawyer who loved the human drama of the courtroom and both criminal and civil jury trials. His practice enjoyed several high-profile cases, including prosecuting the macabre serial killer Ed Gein, establishing attorneys' First Amendment right to advertise their services in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, defending DeRance Foundation Catholic philanthropist Harry G. John, challenging racial segregation in the Milwaukee Elks Club, and persistently challenging inhumane conditions in the old Milwaukee County Jail. Along with the late Bill Coffey, the late Bob Friebert, and Jim Shellow, he was a founder of the original Lawyers Committee of the Wisconsin Civil Liberties Union and served for many years as an ACLU Cooperating Attorney. He detested discrimination and over the years represented minority clients in employment cases. An extroverted raconteur, Bob was known for the gift of wit, the practice of what he smilingly called "Irish hyperbole," and a sometimes gruff demeanor beneath which lay a soft heart for those marginalized in the social order and for the follies and losses of his fellow humans. Bob loved movies, jazz music, books, travel and sports, was an inveterate Milwaukee baseball fan from the old Milwaukee Braves to today's Brewers, even going late in life and slowed by Parkinson's to his seat behind third base in Miller Park. He was a sharp and entertaining presence at the poker table and was drawn to the beauty and challenge of horse racing, at both Arlington and Saratoga racetracks, astutely handicapping his share of winners and mourning the inevitable disappointments. There will be a Mass of Christian Burial at the Church of the Gesu, 1145 W. Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, at 11AM, preceded by a visitation there beginning at 9:30AM and Military Honors at the conclusion of Mass. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the National Parkinson Foundation, P.O. Box 5018, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5018, or The Wisconsin Parkinson Association, 945 N. 12th St., Suite 4602, Milwaukee, WI 53233. Brett Funeral Home (414) 342-0692
Published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Mar. 23, 2016
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