Menford Sutton
Menford Lawrence Sutton, 88, passed away peacefully at Arlington Memorial Hospice Unit on Sunday, August 19, 2012. A long time resident of Arlington, Texas, he suffered from Alzheimer Disease for the last thirteen years. Menford, known to all as “ML”, was born to Jesse Lawrence Sutton and Mattie Ola Harris Sutton on October 11, 1923 in Harrold, Texas, and was the oldest of five children born to his parents. ML was preceded in death by his parents and brothers; Frank Ellis Sutton and Lloyd Paul Sutton. A member of the “Greatest Generation,” ML enlisted in the U.S. Navy immediately following the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor and spent his wartime service in combat in the Pacific aboard the USS Hazelwood (DD-531). Following two years of combat operations, a kamikaze attack on the USS Hazelwood off Okinawa killed all senior officers and 67 enlisted men on April 29, 1945. As the remaining crew struggled with onboard damage control, ML was tasked with inspecting the exterior integrity of the damaged hull at the water level. That assignment completed and temporary repairs made, the Hazelwood and its survivors returned to Pearl Harbor for permanent repairs. ML and other members of the crew received Honorable Discharges from the US Navy on October 25, 1945, while the Hazelwood continued to serve until decommissioned in 1965. Following World War II, ML returned to North Texas and entered the Southern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth where he received his PHD in Theology. He also attended TCU while in the Seminary. Following graduation, ML served as a pastor to a Baptist church in Vicksburg, Mississippi from 1949 – 1951. He then returned to Fort Worth where he went to work for Bell Helicopter until his retirement in 1993. His hobby and love was aviation. A pilot since 1950 and aircraft owner until his illness, ML was enthralled with rocketry and was a pioneer in the model rocketry industry. In the late 1950's, he and partner Gene Dickerson started Coaster Corporation, a maker and marketer of model rockets. ML's model rockets were industry leaders. According to Bell Helicopter News, one, the four foot tall Mercury, flew faster than the speed of sound at an altitude of more than half a mile. In 1963, ML and his partner sold Coaster Corporation and its asset ultimately became a part of Estes Industries, the world leader in model rocketry. One model rocket developed by ML Sutton is still in production after more than fifty years. ML was a long-time supporter of the Big Brothers Big Sisters in Arlington, and he served as a “Big” for many years, mentoring numerous boys supported by this organization. He was an active supporter until his illness. His survivors are his three children, Dorinda Sutton Cavender and her husband, Hugh C. Akin, his sons, Rodney L. Sutton and his wife, Jeanie LeMoine Sutton and W. Harold Sutton, his six grandchildren, six great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild, two sisters, Evelyn Sutton Roberts and LaVerna Sutton Pugh and numerous nieces and nephews. ML will be buried at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, 2000 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas, TX 75211, on Thursday, August 23rd , at 12:30 PM. The assembly point for ML's interment will be at the cemetery's “Lane C” at 12:15 PM. In lieu of flowers please make donations to Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star, 450 East John Carpenter Freeway, Irving, Texas, 75062 or the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.

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  1. Dearest Cousins,
    Our love, thoughts and prayers are with you all. We loved your Dad and will cherish all the memories we have of our Uncle Menford.

    Don’t you know that our Dad “Brother-in-Law” was waiting to help welcome your Dad “Brother-in-Law” to Heaven with open arms!

    With All My Love & Lots of Hugs,

  2. Rod & Harold, So sorry for your loss. I did not know your father well, but if the two of you are any reflection of the type of person he was, he must have been an awesome father, trusted friend and true joy to be around. I do remember he had quite the sense of humor and was quite the charmer — another trait obviously passed down to his sons. The two of you have been such loving dedicated sons, I know you father is just bursting with pride in Heaven right now!

  3. Dorinda,Rodney & Harold,
    Ruth Anne & I regret that we can’t be with this week. That is a perfect picture of your dad. I will always remember many fond memories of all of you. May God give you comfort…..
    Love & Best Wishes Always,

  4. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers. ML was a wonderful man and it was an honor to be part of his life. He brought such joy to mother and us. He certainly left a positive imprint on this world with his smile, positive attitude, service on the USS Hazelwood and creating a wonderful family.

  5. Dorinda: I am so sorry that your Daddy is gone. Please accept sincerest condolences from Chelsea and me. Your entire Woodmont family is praying for your comfort during these difficult days. May God bless you and all your family, especially now as you mourn. Much love to you. Susy and Chelsea Johnson

  6. When you’re a child you don’t think about what adults do to meet your needs, you just want them met. You don’t realize what sacrifices those adults sometimes make to take care of you. I lived with Aunt Bib and Uncle Mem off and on from the time I was twelve until I was eighteen years old. In the past few days I’ve had a chance to reflect on those years, remember what Aunt Bib and Uncle Mem did for me, and feel blessed that they were there to guide me through some really hard days. Not once in those times did I feel that I was intruding into their family unit…I felt that way because they treated me no differently than they did their children. I didn’t think of the financial burden of another mouth to feed. I didn’t think of the stress a teenager with problems might cause. I had always given Aunt Bib credit for taking care of me. What I missed until I was married was that my saving grace was due to Uncle Mem. He didn’t hesitate to take on a huge responsibility, ask nothing in return, and be gracious when I tried to thank him. I was surprised to learn of some of his accomplishments but wasn’t surprised to know that he gave of himself most of his life. Thank you, Uncle Mem.

  7. Rod,
    We only met your father once at Thanksgiving a few years ago. He was very kind and communicative with us. He was a very successful gentleman and raised a great family. Remember him as a great father and the good times enjoyed throughout the years. May your grief be relieved by fond memories.Love, Jeff & Arlette

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