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Businessman Sutton to be honored for service

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Sutton with his broom, ready to "work"
Harold & Beverly Sutton holding Proclamation from State of Tennessee honoring them for restoring Sutton General Store
Grand Opening of Sutton General Store- April 5, 2008- Harold, Beverly, Jennifer Wiggins Manager
Randall Clemons presenting Proclamation to Harold & Beverly Sutton honoring them for restoring store and giving it to Granville Museum- April 5, 2008
Carolyn Eakes playing checkers at Sutton General Store with Beverly Sutton in background.
December , 2007  Granville Country Christmas-  Randall Clemons Present Picture plaque of pictures of remodeling of Sutton General Store to Harold & Beverly Sutton

His thumbprint is deep in Mt. Juliet.

Its impression is honest and true.

And still today, that imprint's caste is shaping a city where Harold Sutton helped start the Little League, a bank, the city's first pizza parlor, land for the new Mt. Juliet High school, multiple subdivisions and businesses (the Paddocks, Sonic, Golden Gallon, Arby's) the senior citizen's center (well, we have to give that to his wife, Beverly).

And so much more. He's still a live wire at age 83. And he says his bucket list is filled. But, he's eyeing property as we speak. His daughter Ramona lives in Lebanon and is close by.

"My hobby is my work," said Harold.

And add his contributions to Granville, Tennessee, with a renovation of the 1880s Sutton General Store, and even more recent salutes and efforts to traditions there. There's a Saturday night Bluegrass Dinner Show with Sutton Ole Time Music on some 20 radio stations in 10 states and three countries. The store has become a major tourist attraction for Middle Tennessee and has been the backbone of Historic Granville.

This was a project that touched the heart of a prominent banker here, Randall Clemons of Wilson Bank & Trust. Clemons is proud to say Harold is a dear friend.

"He has a great passion to help others," Clemons said. "He's just a great man."

The list goes on and on.

He's a humble icon in Mt. Juliet. He's accomplished much, even while facing tragedy in his life. He lost two sons, Ricky and Wayne, in a car accident on North Greenhill Road in 1973.

On Sunday, he's going to be honored. There's going to be a proclamation naming the day in his honor. It will list all his accomplishments, which are too many to mention.

Sutton said he's honored. And although he said he doesn't really get it, he'll take it.

"I'm blown away," he said. "I can't see why they would do it. I just lived a normal life, a lot of good things, and some tragedy. I'm humbled. Floored."

He told his life story. Then called to say, "Well, my mom always said if you have self pride, it turns into half lies."

No, no half lies.

This is what people say about Harold. He's a genuine good guy. Longtime friend Carolyn Eakes says it best. She's worked for him for 30 years in the real estate business.

"When you are talking to Harold Sutton, it's like you are his universe," she said. "I've never known anyone like that. He makes you feel you are the center of his attention."

Word has it Harold has never said a bad word about anyone, ever, in his 83 years.

His imprint is pretty deep in Mt. Juliet. He lives on Wilson Drive, in a home he built years ago with his wife Beverly. She passed three years ago. They needed to get out of the house they lived in with their sons who died together one fateful night. They needed a fresh start.

He doesn't shy from talking about it. He'd just opened the pizza parlor (he says it was the "bomb" and crazy busy) to help his boys make college money. Wayne was in his second year at Vanderbilt and Ricky was in high school.

"They were two intelligent boys," he said. "They went too fast and ran into something."

He said he went to their graves three days later. He said, "I know you are two good boys. I'll see you soon."

So, he's gone on. He said he walked away from the gravesite and knew he would survive.

He's built Brookstone, Poplar Point, sold the Genesco land.

His philanthropic work is legendary. He's a huge Vanderbilt fan. That's what he does in his free time. He goes to games. He even sponsors a player each year in memory of his sons.

He gets a kick out of saying when he started the pizza parlor, a relative asked, "What?" and he said "I'm making Italian pies."

"It took me forever to get people to know I wasn't in the pastry business," he said.

Mt. Juliet's Corky Cross helped with Clemons and Eakes to put the special day together on Sunday. Cross's brother dealt with Lou Gehrig's disease and Cross felt it was important to honor someone while they are vital.

"Harold Sutton is a true friend," said Cross. "He reaches for your hand and and touches your heart."

Harold Sutton Appreciation Day is July 26 the Veterans Building at James E. Ward Ag Center.

Writer Laurie Everett can be contacted at laurieeverett1@gmail.com.

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