Letters to AHSAA

Jane Vandecar introduces 1960 AHS classmate Gary Sutton
At CEO Netweavers 2006

To Ed Hendrickson Jr. AHSAA 1974 Alumnus and the AHS Alumni Association

Letter from: Jane Vandecar AHS 1960 Alumna
j a n e v a n d e c a r (at) a t t (dot) n e t

Fri Mar 10, 2006
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Hello AHS Alumni,

AHS 1960 Alumnus Gary E. Sutton spoke, November 3, 2006 to CEO Netweavers in Dallas, TX. See Gary's introduction below given by fellow classmate AHS 1960 Alumna Jane Vandecar.

Jane Vandecar and Gary Sutton both 1960 Ames High School Alum at the CEO Netweavers in Dallas Texas November 3 2006
AHS 1960 Alumna Jane Vandecar
& Gary Sutton at CEO Netweavers
click to zoom

Good morning !!

It's always nice to be here with all of you! I didn't feel that way, however, when the alarm went off this morning!

I'm introducing your speaker today because he is a high school classmate of mine!

I can give you information about him that you won‘t find on the cover of his books!

We graduated from Ames High School in Ames, Iowa – the home of Iowa State University. Our motto, of course, was Ames Hi Aims High! Gary, being exceptionally intelligent, realized that you can get higher if you start lower.

So - he was the only merit scholar in Iowa to graduate in the lower half of his class.

He was thrown off the football team for bad behavior.

He was expelled from school for cutting class.

He was every teacher’s worst nightmare – the class prankster and troublemaker.

Many substitute teachers fled the classroom in tears!

By his own admission, the principle and superintendent got together to try to figure out how to deny him his diploma. In the end, of course, they didn't want him around any longer, so he got to graduate!

Ames High School was a pretty typical small town mid-western high school. Graduates ranged from Pulitzer Prize winners to serial killers. The serial killer actually worked for Gary at one time. I don’t know if part of his speech this morning is about how to hire the right people, but you might keep this in mind!

Things about Gary that you will find on his book covers are nicer. Gary’s a turn-around CEO. He’s run printing, software, retail advertising, aerospace, garbage, burgler alarm, satellite telecom, and data storage businesses. He’s also chaired a private college. He’s written business books and he lectures around the country. He and his wife live in La Jolla.

Thank you, Gary, for coming to Dallas to speak to CEO Netweavers!

The AHS Alumni Association recieved very sad news that Gary E. Sutton passed away on July 12, 2015, one day shy of his 73rd birthday. I never formally met Gary, but we walked the same hallways at Ames High School. I walked those same halls at Central Junior High from 1969 to 1972 and Gary walked those same halls from 1957 to 1960 because Ames High School became Central Junior High in 1962.
Gary was very kind and patient in his coorespondence with the AHSAA and with me. <a href ='https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/san-diego-ca/gary-sutton-6517954'>Gary</a> wrote to me about becoming an Author and what it takes to be a successful author. The AHSAA does not normally post obituaries, because we have 28,000 Alumni, but since Gary had previously been so kind to keep in contact with us, and I had posted the letter to the editor above, clear back in 2006, I included Gary's' obituary below as he made an impact on me, and still does, as I'm sure he did with so many others
-- Ed Hendrickson 1974 AHS and AHSAA Website manager volunteer.

In Memory of Gary Edwin Sutton AHS 1960

July 13, 1942 - July 12, 2015

Gary E. Sutton Obituary
Gary Sutton Obituary

Gary Edwin Sutton was a troublemaker and a man full of integrity, class clown and a brilliant businessman, ruthless when crossed and a generous advisor to everyone who leaned on him, a risk-taking adventurer and a mushy family man, a C student and a lifelong learner, a healthy fitness buff and a wine lover, a small town farm boy and a big city sophisticate. In short, Gary was truly one of a kind and this world will never know another like him.

Gary was born to Kay and Gene Sutton in Montezuma, Iowa, on July 13, 1942. His childhood was bucolic and involved enough shenanigans that he could entertain a crowd for hours with old stories. He held several interesting jobs during high school and college, including male model, working at a nuclear cyclotron, and driving cross country as the advance public relations man for race cars and a hot air balloon.

A Journalism major at Iowa State University, Gary spent more time with his fraternity brothers at Sigma Phi Epsilon than he did in class (in fact, he barely graduated). Sophomore year, he had a blind date with Nancy Ruth Winberg where they played drinking games. The two were married on September 19, 1964.

Gary’s career started with writing ad copy for Lennox furnaces and air conditioners. He worked his way up the career ladder with stops at Learjet, Honeywell (where he helped invent autofocus), Fisher Price Toys, and a variety of printing, burglar alarm and technology companies where he was CEO. The last 20 years of Gary’s career were spent as a turnaround artist, where he would make unprofitable companies successful. He never failed to turn a company around.

Along the way, Gary exaggerated his graduate studies, saying he “slipped through Harvard Business thanks to their OPM program, allowing some ivy to rub off on lesser intellects,” and that he took graduate studies at Oxford “without the tiniest shred of distinction.”

Always a writer at heart, Gary authored numerous business and fiction books, some of which were actually published by legitimate publishing houses (all are available on Amazon, but buyer beware!). He also ran many columns and Op-Ed pieces in publications ranging from the local fish wrapper to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. One column helped a judge decide to overturn a jury verdict. Another caused a CIA operative to show up on his doorstop. Death threats and nasty letters to the editor followed several pieces. At least that’s what he claimed – Gary was never one to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Gary was the busiest “retired” person ever known. In addition to his writing, he served on several boards, was an inventor holding multiple patents, spoke publicly, and generously gave of his time to small business owners.

In addition to his wife of 50 years, Nancy, Gary’s true pride and joy were his children and grandchildren. Daughter Stacy of Atlanta is the mother of granddaughters Cody (20) and Katy (17). Daughter Lindsay of Moraga, California is the mother of grandsons Ryan (16) and Sam (15). Gary regaled his descendants with stupid magic tricks, told the same jokes over and over, acted in an embarrassing fashion whenever possible, and consistently served as an inspiring and adored role model.

Beloved by everyone, Gary left us too soon, due to an aortic aneurysm that the doctors thought was small enough to not be a danger. He died one day shy of his 73rd birthday, on July 12, 2015. He will be missed terribly, and never, ever forgotten.

Despite loving being the center of attention, Gary did not want to have a funeral or memorial service. We are debating about looking skyward, saying “You are not the boss of us!” and going against his wishes, but plans are still to be determined. Gary was suspicious of most charities, so there’s no need to make a donation in his name. If you wish to honor him, please spend time with your precious families and realize that you may not have as many tomorrows as you’d like.

P.S. A casual, tropical themed open house to celebrate Gary's life will be held on Saturday, September 19, 2015, 4 - 7 pm at the La Jolla Alta Clubhouse, 1570 Alta La Jolla Dr. La Jolla, CA 92037.

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