“Mom” Sutton, as she was known to all, served at Southeastern from 1951 to 2013. She served by working in the kitchen for twenty-four years, then took over supervising the cleaning of the college. Mom Sutton was there as soon as students moved out, preparing the dorms for the next semester. She did this until she was 85 years old. Afterward, she still came on Tuesday mornings and served coffee and cookies to the SEBC Community Bible Study.
It would be impossible to give an exhaustive list of all Mom has done at SEBC over the years. In so many ways she was a blessing to the students, faculty and staff. She was truly a treasure. There is no doubt she heard the words from Matthew 25:21 … well done good and faithful servant … from her Lord and Savior.
Alexander Granados, Th.M., Ph.D.
President of Southeastern Bible College (2014 – )
I praise the Lord for what He did in and through Elsie “Mom” Sutton. She was a servant who did her work with an eye single to God’s glory and that is why her life and ministry are an example of faithfulness.
For over 50 years she was our co-laborer and friend at Southeastern Bible College. Her humble teachable spirit made it a joy to serve with her. Her passion for and commitment to the gospel, revealed her love for God, His word and His people. What impressed me the most about Mom Sutton was how she demonstrated her spiritual character and values through an unreserved worship of God and a pursuit of Christ-likeness in word, deed and attitude.
She was a precious model of devotion embodying Joshua 1:8 – This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. I am grateful for her palpable contribution to our academic and spiritual development at Southeastern Bible College. She taught us to be caretakers, guards, guides, seekers, feeders, and lovers of God’s flock.
The Lover and Savior of her soul has called her home and she is at rest. Psalm 116:15 – Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones.
Don Hawkins, D. Min.
President of Southeastern Bible College (2001 – 2014)
My first contact with Mom Sutton and her husband Pop came when I entered Southeastern as a freshman in the fall of 1963. They had already established themselves as key members of the Southeastern team. Pop oversaw maintenance of the ten-acre Southside campus, and Mom headed up food service. Both were highly respected, and both were diligent and hard-working in their service. Meals were served family-style, and a number of students worked for Mom in the kitchen and dining area, as did a number for Pop.
One memory about Mom stands out to me. In my second or third year, a small but vocal number of students confronted Mom, griping about the food. Mom very graciously responded to these complaints, and I can’t help thinking about two things—her calm in the face of criticism and the terrific job she did to stretch a tight budget and prepare quality meals for us students.
When Kathy and I returned to Southeastern in 2001 to begin my 13-year service as president, Pop had been called on to heaven, but Mom had continued serving the college, as she had in a variety of ways over the years. At that time, at the age of 86, she was serving refreshments to the president’s Tuesday morning Bible class. She continued this service until she finally had to step down at the age of 96!
Shortly before that occurred, a local television crew came out to produce a feature on Mom and her years of service. Cameras recorded her cheerful smile, her diligent spirit, and her quiet yet gracious interaction with those who attended the class. The final shot in the televised feature was of Mom, well into her nineties, driving off campus toward home!
Now that she is truly home, with the Savior she loved and reunited with Pop, it is most fitting that we recognize the faithful decades of service to the college, the love of students so many have reflected in Facebook posts, and the incredible impact she (and her partner Pop) have had on the history of Southeastern.
John D. Talley, D. Min.
President of Southeastern Bible College (1988 – 2000)
My memories of Mom span almost 60 years. First, Bette and I, came to SEBC as students. Mom ran the cafeteria, cooking meals for the on-campus students on the old Pawnee campus while Pop was the head of maintenance. In 1977 when I joined the faculty she was in charge of housekeeping. She taught her student help to clean windows with vinegar and old newspapers in order to save the College money. Though I assured her the budget could handle cleaning supplies, Mom persisted in using vinegar and newspapers.
When I taught the President’s Monday night/Tuesday morning Bible studies, Mom was responsible for refreshments. Finally, when Mom could no longer drive Bette and I would often pick her up for church. Whether she was the cook, in charge of housekeeping or refreshments, Elsie Sutton had a way of working her way into the hearts of people around her, thus the title “Mom Sutton”.
When we received the call that Mom had gone to glory, I became emotional and the only words that came out of my mouth were, “Man, is she going to get a bunch of rewards!”
We loved and appreciated her and will miss her greatly.
On behalf of the family of Alden Gannett, D. Th.,
President of Southeastern Bible College (1960-1969) & (1972 – 1981)
Ron Gannett, Alumnus 1971
Special Assistant to the President, Dallas Theological Seminary
My first memory of Mom and Pop Sutton was their invitation to the new president and his family in 1960 to share dinner in their modest mobile home tucked up above the old campus. It was the campus manager and cook who reached out to the new leader to show love and make his young family feel welcomed.
My father was always appreciative of her attention to his needs. She wanted to make sure that Dr. Gannett was cared for. He would tower over her with a hug and brag to anyone listening about her meaningful role at the college. Her humble spirit would brush it off, but we all knew she was like the poor widow in the Temple who gave everything she had and captured the attention of our Lord.
At college gatherings or conferences, I would see Mom lingering around the edges of the crowd in her humble way. But, it never worked. Her gracious spirit created a magnetism, which drew people to her automatically. The event was not complete without a word or hug from Mom. She never taught a course but her sacrifice and love educated us all.
When I think of her, even now, my mind can only see that constant smile on her face and the twinkle in her eye to know how you are doing. I can only imagine the fruit we will see in heaven resulting from her labors of love. How many folks will be there praising the Lord because they knew her or were touched by someone she loved? If I listen carefully, I think I can hear the bells of heaven ringing with joy.
I know that every member of the Gannett Family joins me in thanking our Lord for allowing our lives to be graced by His dear servant, Mom Sutton.