Mildred Sutton 1919-2017
Mildred Sutton, 97, died on June 15 at Primrose of Lima, after a quietly adventurous life.
She was born in Tulsa, OK, on June 28,1919, to Ben Zion and Manya (Umans) Robinowitz, Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. She graduated from Tulsa Central High School in 1936, having skipped a year of school. Although she was an excellent student, her father would agree to pay only her older brother's college tuition, but Mildred was determined to go to college, so she worked to earn money to go to California, where she enrolled in Los Angeles City College in 1937. For a girl of 18 to move from Oklahoma to California with almost no money and no job prospects, in the depths of the Depression, was quite courageous. As a non-resident, she couldn't afford her dream school, the University of California, so at a college Young Communist League dance that autumn, she jokingly asked Lee Sutton, a young man she had just met, if he was from California. When he said yes, she proposed to him. He laughed and said yes. Eight months later they married, a marriage that lasted forty years until Lee's death. The day after their wedding, the couple hitchhiked to Berkeley. She and her husband were starry-eyed idealists who had embraced Communism as the answer to the Depression but the Russia-Germany non-aggression pact of 1939 opened their eyes. Mildred graduated from Cal in 1942 with a degree in Psychology.
During World War II, while her husband served in the artillery in Italy, she worked as a social worker, including a period in the Long Beach, California, shipyards as "Rosie the Riveter's" social worker. She and her family moved many times to pursue education or jobs: in addition to California, they lived in Oregon, Ohio, New York, Iowa, and Nebraska. She earned a Masters of Library Science from Columbia University in 1964, and worked as a reference librarian at Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa, and as head librarian at John F. Kennedy College in Wahoo, Nebraska. She and her husband returned to California in 1975, settling in San Diego.
After a bad fall, she moved to Lima to be near her daughter in 2010, but, independent as ever, she moved into an apartment at Primrose Retirement Community. The family wishes to thank the Primrose residents and staff and St. Rita's Hospice.
Mildred loved both attending plays and acting in productions. She participated in little theatre for over fifty years, especially after her retirement. She won a Best Actress Award in 1992 for her performance in Chula Vista's On Stage Theatre production of The Whales of August. Mildred read voraciously and enjoyed doing crossword puzzles; she tackled New York Times puzzles up to her final week of life. Combining her love of theatre and her love of reading, she turned reading aloud to her children and grandchildren into mini-performances, delighting them with books from Winnie the Pooh and Charlotte's Web, to The Lord of the Rings, Jane Eyre and The Sound and the Fury. In retirement she enjoyed traveling, especially in Europe, visiting England, France, Spain, Italy to experience the history and art, and once to Switzerland to hike in the Alps. She walked nine holes of golf five days a week, into her 90th year.
She was preceded in death by her husband Lee Sutton and her brother G.D. Robinson. She is survived by her son Blake Sutton (Beth) of Cranston, RI; daughter Beth Sutton-Ramspeck (Doug) of Lima; grandsons Evan (Amy Helton) Sutton of Silver Spring, MD; and Riley (Natasha) Sutton of Reno, NV; granddaughters Kaeli Sutton of Cranston, RI, and Lee Sutton-Ramspeck, of Charlotte, NC; and great-grandchildren Ibrahim Fall, Miles Taranto, Lila Sutton, Calvin Sutton, Rowan Sutton, and Kieran Sutton.
There will be no funeral services. Mildred willed her body to the Ohio State University Medical School. No flowers, please. A more suitable tribute would be a memorial contribution in Mildred's name to Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center, The League of Women Voters, or the Lima Public Library.
Published in The Lima News from June 15 to June 16, 2017