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This profile was last updated on 5/16/00  and contains information from public web pages.

Mr. Robert Orlando Sutton

Wrong Robert Orlando Sutton?
Merchant Marines

Employment History

Board Memberships and Affiliations

  • Life Member


  • Boulder High School
  • aeronautical engineering
    University of Colorado engineering school
20 Total References
Web References
Bobby SuttonDo You ..., 16 May 2000 [cached]
Bobby Sutton
Do You Have CTS? - Coping with Pain
Winter 2000
Miniature Wild Turkey Painting
Bobby Sutton
By Byrn and JoAnne Watson
Bobby Sutton, also known as Mr. IWCA, has a history of hunting and interest in wildlife that spans almost his whole lifetime.Bobby Lee, as he was christened, started hunting quail with his father in the Ozark mountains of northwest Arkansas at the age of six.His father was a devoted quail hunter and, according to Bobby, owned super, super hunting dogs that they would take hunting on his grandparents' farm.By the time he was in his early teens, Bobby was expected to come back from a hunting trip with the same number of birds as the number of shells his father had given him.If he was given six shells, his father expected six birds.As a teenager, he also did a lot of rabbit hunting.
Arkansas was a great place for a skinny boy to grow up.He had his own horse, and loved to take boat rides on the river near the family farm.The family probably would have stayed there if it had not been for World War II.They moved to California in 1942, where his father could make a dollar an hour instead of $ 15 per week.During the war, while still in high school, Bobby worked for Douglas Aircraft Company.High school students could go to school in the morning, take a bus to the Douglas Plant at lunchtime, and then take the bus back at the end of the day.Bobby loved the work and was well-paid.He had more money than he had ever seen in his life.Since he was small in stature, his job was riveting inside the tips of the bomber wings.He claims this is the reason he can not hear very well.The Rosie-the-Riveters gave Bobby a bad time, but he says it was all in good fun.So at an early age he was liked by the ladies, which suited him just fine.
By 1945, Bobby was itching to roam the world and experience the sailors' haunts.Once he graduated from Long Beach Poly High School, he joined the Merchant Marines.The war ended while he was in training on Catalina Island, so he was never involved in the war.After he finished his stint in the Merchant Marines, Bobby worked at a variety of jobs, such as service station attendant, garbage disposal (a new modern appliance) installer, assembler of wheelchairs and maker of horse-racing buggies and hot rods.He even built a boat in the backyard.Bobby was always industrious and never without work.He always had and still has a better way of doing most anything.As his good friend Bruce Buckley says, If you run into a problem, Bobby will usually come up with an idea or tool to provide the solution. His sister Peggy says, Bobby can fix almost anything..
Eventually he settled down, and in 1955 went to work as a brakeman with the Pacific Electric Railroad.At the time of his retirement, Bobby was one of the last two firemen in the U.S., and was employed as No. 1 Fireman on locomotives for Southern Pacific Railroad-with 40 years seniority.According to Bobby, the job of fireman, which consisted of riding in the cab pushing buttons and second-guessing the engineer without the awesome responsibilities of the conductor, who can get fired if anybody on his crew screws up, was the preferred job.Even the pay was somewhat better than that of the conductor.For years, Bobby tried to make a deal with the Railroad to retire him early so he could spend more time carving decoys and attending shows, but the Railroad had no mechanism to do so.He contends it was a good thing because he would have probably starved as a carver.
Settling down also meant marriage.Bobby met Beverly, his wife-to-be, at The Long Beach Ski Club.They were married shortly thereafter and spent 38 years together before her death in 1995.Bobby became very proficient in downhill racing, though he gave it up in 1977 to devote more time to carving activities.Skiing was just one of the hobbies hobby and Beverly enjoyed together.They also traveled extensively and enjoyed good food and parties.Beverly liked to recall that Bobby won a trip from a Campbell's Soup contest-certainly a measure of his charmed life-and traveled to Rome, Florence, Spain and Yugoslavia.Bobby still loves a party and can hold his own with the best of them when stories start to flow late in the evening.As the old saying goes, Bobby has never met a stranger.
EARLY INVOLVEMENTSometime in the late 1960s, Bobby was carving a few decoys for his rig when Beverly read an article in the paper about a group that was meeting in an antique shop-aptly called the Duck Blind-in Fullerton.This is where he met Bruce Buckley, who was also carving a few decoys.Through this group, Bobby heard about the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association, and he attended their first show in 1971, which was held at the Berkeley Aquatic Park.While Bobby attended the show, Beverly went shopping in San Francisco.She never minded attending shows with him as long as there was good shopping nearby.In southern California, in about 1974, the Pacific Southwest Wildfowl Arts was formed, and Bobby was a founding member.He is also a PSWA lifetime member, one of four lifetime carving organization memberships he holds.The PSWA's first show launched Bobby's auction career and, from that time on, there was no stopping him.He auctioned enough birds and stuff to pay for the show.Total proceeds from that auction were about $ 600.My, how times have changed! Bobby says his first good auction was for PSWA.
at the Saddleback Inn in Santa Ana.Bobby has been an auctioneer at numerous regional and national shows and benefit functions whose fortunes, according to Roger Barton, have hung upon his golden larynx and silver-tongued talent of persuasion at the supper hour. Benefactors of his talents, in addition to the PSWA and PFDA, have been the North American Waterfowl Carving Championship in Livonia, Michigan ; the Michigan Duck Hunters show in Pte.Mouillee ; the Ward World Championship in Ocean City, Maryland ; the Cajun Heritage Festival in Galliano, Louisiana ; and the Louisiana Wildfowl Festival in New Orleans, as well as various Ducks Unlimited dinners.Bobby loves to get to know the buyers on a personal level, and can tell you almost to the date when he sold the first bird to many of today's buyers.In fact, the first time he auctioned a bird to Betty Odine, he wondered if she could pay for it.It do not take him long to answer that question, and they soon become good friends.In addition to his gifts as an auctioneer, his view of the art form is perceptive and sophisticated, his view of humanity is tolerant and upbeat, and conversation with him is always rewarding.The carving community do not know how lucky it is to have him.Bobby has always been creative and innovative.He has a new idea a minute.A couple of years ago, as we were relaxing in a hospitality suite at a show, Bobby told us that he was getting tired and old, and had run out of fresh ideas.Not five minutes went by, when I heard him say, You know, I have this idea . . ..
Many a carver has spent long hours on the telephone with Bobby listening to these new ideas.Bill Browne of Lincoln, Nebraska, is convinced that Bobby owns stock in the telephone company, or at least that their income will be drastically reduced if he ever has to give up the telephone.When a call comes in from Bobby, he says, you just settle in and enjoy the conversation and the evening.
Some of Bobby's better-known ideas include the practice of revenue sharing ; the splitting of auction proceeds between show and carver ; the cocktail bird auction, the first of which was held at a PSWA California Open show and which has since become a feature at many national and regional shows ; the palm frond decoy category (although palm frond decoys have been used for years, Bobby originated the idea of adopting the palm frond decoy to modern day competition) ; and the IWCA National Hunting Decoy Championship and IWCA Novice Carver of the Year competitions.Bill Browne has many wonderful stories to tell about Bobby.He says the first time that he met Bobby was in about 1986, when he shared a room with him at the Castle in the Sand Hotel in Ocean City after being assured by Cliff Hollestelle that Bobby was O.K. Problems started when Bobby showed up Thursday after his red-eye flight.Bobby's suitcase had been lost and did not show up until Sunday, but when it arrived, it was locked and Bobby do not have the key.Bill be not sure he wanted to share his underwear or toothbrush with his new-found friend, so a locksmith was quickly found.When it was finally opened, Bobby was much relieved, since its main contents were cigarettes and his favorite gin.How
International Wildfowl Carvers Association, 1 April 2000 [cached]
Mr. IWCA: Bob Sutton
Mr. IWCA: Bob Sutton
Mr. IWCA: Bob Sutton
Combined with a Rube Goldberg attitude and the tenacity of a pit bull, Sutton always has a "new" idea to solve any problem. And, if he thinks you can help him with it, he'll give you a call. Just turn the TV off, get a cup of coffee, and let your spouse know it's Bob. You'll be awhile, and you'll enjoy it.
Bobby Sutton
Bobby Sutton is a familiar and welcome face at IWCA carving shows.
Sutton was one of thousands of Arkie families who left Arkansas in the '40s to find work in California during the boom in industry caused by World War II. His father was a farmer and truck driver in Arkansas but simply couldn't earn what his family needed. So, in 1942, Sutton's dad pulled up stakes in Arkansas and moved to the West Coast where he found work as a welder.
Sutton entered high school and worked an extra four hours each day, as well as summers, building B-17s and Victory Ships in the shipyards. When Sutton graduated in 1945, the war was over. He tried to enlist but was classified 4-F due to a chronic physical problem.
Still, Sutton wanted to get into the post-war effort. Tons of military material and thousands of soldiers had to be brought home at the end of the war. Sutton joined the Merchant Marines and set off on a world-wide tour ferrying materials and personnel.
Sutton says one of his merchant marine friends, who served during the war, was torpedoed three times in succession. He was rescued when his first ship was torpedoed and was wrapped in towels warming in the mess hall with a cup of coffee when the rescuing ship was also torpedoed. The friend found himself again in the water with no towels but with the coffee cup still clutched in his hand. He was soon rescued only to have that ship torpedoed so that he had to be rescued once again. Sutton says the work and sacrifices of the merchant service during WWII are often overlooked.
Image Bob Sutton palm frond goose. In 1955, Sutton started work with the Southern Pacific Railroad. He became a fireman and worked for the railroad for 40 years. He refused to take the exam for engineer preferring the job of looking over the engineer's shoulder and filling in under supervision when needed. Bob says most of his work was either in the yard or on short, local runs near Los Angeles in southern California.
Sutton says the Southern Pacific's longest run was between Seattle and New Orleans hauling mostly grain for export. It wasn't long till Sutton's creative make-do attitude came up with another way to make a buck.
He noticed that piles of grain were lost from cars in the rail yards. The railroad wasn't interested in recouping these "small" losses, but Sutton realized the losses were free to claim. So, after work, Sutton would shovel and bag as much as two or three tons of spilt grain and take it home where he and his dad built and grain cleaning operation. They would empty the bags, clean the grain, and re-bag or pelletize it for resale. Sutton obviously inherited, and learned, his dad's creative intelligence and soon learned there was a way to overcome almost any problem.
Image Sutton was a favorite and talented auctioneer at carving shows in the 1980s. He was well known for his humor and clear ringing voice that could make crowds want to buy. Hefting and processing up to four tons of grain every day meant Sutton developed outstanding strength in his arms and shoulders. It became an easy task to load a 150-pound bag of grain to his shoulder and run with it. In the 1950's he excelled at arm wrestling and developed a reputation as one who was tough to beat.
In addition to the feed business operating out of his family's garage, Sutton also worked in the scrap metal business. At other times, he built wheels for racing sulkies, repaired sulkies, worked as a plumber and mechanic, ran a service station, and worked with his dad who invented the brake for wheelchairs.
To a large extent, Sutton inherited the attitude of his father's generation. A generation of common folks who survived the Great Depression by clawing, scratching, and working, in ways that many of us would no longer consider, to support families and lead their kids to a better life.
It's that attitude of "seeing and fixing" problems that still drives Sutton today. Sutton sees opportunities where others see insurmountable problems, and he'll always come up with a work-around just when you need it.
Image When you see Sutton at shows these days, he's always wrapped in conversation helping another carver, discussing one of several In the 1980s, when independent carving shows each determined it was their God-given right to develop their own rules for their show and couldn't see the advantage through their pride-clouded eyes of having common rules across shows so that entries could travel across the nation, it was Sutton who guided the development of IWCA and its committees to develop and recommend a common set of rules for clubs who were not too stubborn to accept them.
All IWCA shows benefit from these common rules, and Bob Sutton, as the founding father of IWCA, deserves much of the credit for his outside-the-box thinking and tenacity to make things happen.
Have you met and chatted with Bob Sutton? If so, savor the memory. He's one of the greats.
For a more intimate profile of Bob Sutton, read Bobby Sutton by Byrn and JoAnne Watson, Wildfowl Carving Magazine, Spring 2000, p. 11. For a more intimate profile of Bob Sutton, read Bobby Sutton by Byrn and JoAnne Watson, Wildfowl Carving Magazine, Spring 2000, p. 11.
faa [cached]
Bob Sutton called me today and told me that he is selling his property in Daytona and will not be coming down her each year as he has done in the past.Bob is a life member of FAA/NFAA and will continue to receive our publications, but in the future, we'll have to go to Apsley, Ontario to shoot with him.They have a club there and I've shot with him on their range ... a fun time.We'll miss Bob in Florida.Tim
MARS_mission, 17 Oct 2008 [cached]
The Chicago-born Carter replaced Robert Sutton, who retired at age 65 after 16 years in the chief's post. In the early 1990s Chief Sutton initiated the critical transition from MARS' previous emphasis on transmitting messages for troops overseas (a traffic now dominated by e-mail and cell-phones) to the present focus on emergency response. A watershed came in 1994 when the Pentagon's Directorate of Military Support called on MARS for urgent reconnaissance of the Northridge (CA) earthquake. That disaster killed 51 persons, seriously injured 9,000, destroyed thousands of homes as well as miles of freeway, and wiped out telephone service for much of southern California. MARS delivered. Out of that test was born a new mission of automatically providing the Pentagon with alerts to local and regional emergencies, so-called Emergency Elements of Information (EEIs). Building on the foundation established by Sutton, Carter within a couple of months of taking office had called for measures amounting to a new watershed: Region Command—States are grouped into 10 regions under the operational command of volunteer regional directors (call sign AAAnRD).
Grecian Firebolt 2003 / GF-011.JPG, 7 April 2006 [cached]
Mr. Robert Sutton, Chief Army MARS, in the MARS Operations Center at Ft. Meade.
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