Obituary of James E Sutton
James E. Sutton
James “Jim” Elmer Sutton – graphic designer, illustrator, cartoonist and fine artist – passed away Dec. 4, 2023, with family by his side. He was 93. Jim was a devoted husband, father and gifted artist with a passion for wildlife watercolor in recent years.
With art spanning multiple mediums, Jim’s watercolor paintings were inspired by North American and African wildlife, landscapes, farms and landmarks from the Heartland and the Southwest. He also enjoyed capturing nautical themes from his travels and time at sea. He always carried a camera to capture a new idea for his next project.
Jim was raised in Burlington, Iowa by beloved parents Theresa and Elmer. Theresa was key to nurturing her son’s artistic talent at a young age and inspired his lifetime of work. The family lived on a farm during the Great Depression, an impressionable place for a young boy who loved animals as much as he loved painting them.
Jim earned his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University north of Des Moines and taught elementary school shop in San Diego before being commissioned in the U.S. Navy. He proudly served as an officer on the USS Kearsarge aircraft carrier from June 1952 to June 1954 during the Korean War conflict, earning the Korean Service Award with two stars.
After completing his Naval duty, he married Carol Anne Marx of St. Cloud, Minnesota, in 1955. The newlyweds moved to Tucson and Jim went back to school to earn his master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Arizona. He developed a collection of woodcuts for his master’s thesis and worked in the medium over the next two decades.
Shortly after obtaining his master’s degree, the couple moved to Phoenix to start a family. In 1969 he founded Art Direction in Phoenix, working as sole proprietor for 25 years. He specialized in commercial art direction and pen and ink illustration – all done by hand – primarily for the health care, banking, energy, technology, transportation and tourism industries.
Jim and Carol retired to Tucson in 1995 and were married for 61 years. He is survived by his children Anne, Jim and Beth, and preceded in death by his wife, parents, and dear family members Helen “Honey” and Sylvester “Vet” Williams, Evangeline “Van” Heisig, and Lucy and Don Freeman.
A funeral mass is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 15 in the Chapel at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Tucson. In lieu of flowers the family suggests contributions to Peppi’s House, Tucson Medical Center Hospice, 2715 N. Wyatt Dr. in Tucson. The Sutton family thanks their extended family and friends for the heartfelt prayers and appreciates the many well wishes.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James Sutton , please visit Tribute Store