Longtime Williams’ resident Sutton <br>to serve as Honorary Grand Marshal<br>
Bill Sutton Sr. will ride in the Labor Day Parade Saturday as Honorary Grand Marshal of the event.
Bill Sutton Sr., a 66-year resident of Williams, will serve as the Honorary Grand Marshal of the Labor Day Parade on Saturday. Watch for Sutton, who will be decked out in a new shirt and blue jeans riding in a wagon, during the parade.
Born and raised in Phoenix, Sutton moved to Williams on March 7, 1937. He joined his family, who had recently purchased the Thurston Motel. The motel was renamed the Sutton Motel. On April 21, 1937, Sutton opened a Conoco service station for his family. The building that housed the station still can be found today on the Southwest corner of Route 66 and South Fourth Street.
Sutton worked 14 hours per day seven days a week. His salary was $15 per week. His monthly rent was $20.
“You really had to work for money in those days,” he said.
In 1938, Sutton met the love of his life, his future wife, Raynell. He describes that time as the happiest time in his life.
“The first time I saw her, I was at a rodeo sitting on a corral. Raynell walked by, smiled at me and I about fell off that fence,” Sutton remembered. “Raynell was the prettiest girl in the world, a real knock-out. I loved walking into a room with her. I was so proud of her. I sure do miss her.”
Bill and Raynell were married on Oct. 22, 1938. They had four children — Bill Jr., Sylvia, Carol and Sue. Raynell passed away on July 21, 2000.
After Bill married Raynell, he went to his family and asked for more pay. They increased his pay to $20 per week.
In 1940, Sutton left the family businesses and began driving a logging truck for the Saginaw Manistee Sawmill. He was paid 50 cents an hour and earned 75 cents an hour working overtime.
“There was no future there,” Sutton said.
Sutton then went to work for the Santa Fe Railroad at their roundhouse. There, he earned 40 cents an hour. He started out working on the locomotives. After three years, he became an engineer. Sutton was still working seven days per week.
“There was no such thing as a day off,” Sutton said.
Sutton remained with Santa Fe until 1948 when the railroad began using diesel-powered engines. When the railroad converted to diesel, Sutton was faced with a tough decision. If he were to continue to work for Santa Fe, he would be forced to move to Winslow. After talking with Raynell, the couple decided to remain in Williams.
Sutton purchased a service station located at the Northwest corner of Route 66 and North First Street, where the High Country Market is now located. He would open the station early in the morning and close at 11 p.m.
“Raynell always got up and made me breakfast. The kids brought me lunch and dinner,” Sutton recalled. “It never failed. When I would sit down to eat dinner, someone would show up and I’d have to do a lube job.”
Sutton later leased that station to another person and purchased a station across the street on the Northeast corner of North First Street and Route 66. The same building that housed the station remains in place today. Sutton eventually sold the station to his son-in-law, Johnny Kiker.
Williams Chief of Police Don Massey offered Sutton a temporary job as a police officer. The two-week assignment turned into a job for more than seven years.
When Williams Justice of the Peace and City Magistrate Spike Way retired, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors appointed Sutton to fill the remaining two-year term as justice of the peace. The city of Williams hired Sutton to serve as the city’s magistrate. When the term expired, Sutton ran unopposed and remained in office until he retired in 1985.
Being a busy businessman and then police officer turned judge did not deter Sutton from being active within the community. Sutton retired after 29 years of service from the Williams Volunteer Fire Department. He is a past member of the Williams Rotary Club.
Sutton joined the Williams-Grand Canyon Masonic Lodge No. 38 in 1941. He remains an active member of the Masons and received his 60-year pin recently.
In 1960, Sutton joined the Bill Williams Mountain Men. He traveled to Washington, D.C. with the group twice.
Honorary Grand Marshal Sutton will share the spotlight in Saturday’s parade with the Bill Williams Mountain Men, who were selected as Grand Marshals to commemorate the group’s 50 year anniversary. The parade begins at 10 a.m. in downtown Williams.