Ralph L. SuttonJanuary 1, 2004
Ralph L. Sutton, 86, a resident of Davenport, Iowa and formerly of Rock Island, Illinois, passed peacefully on Thursday, June 2, 2005 at Trinity Medical Center-West Campus, Rock Island. Funeral services will be 10:00 A.M., Tuesday, June 7, 2005 at McGinnis-Chambers Funeral Home, Bettendorf, Iowa. Visitation will be from 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M., Monday evening at the funeral home. Burial will be in Davenport Memorial Park, Davenport. Memorials may be made to The American Cancer Society, South Park Presbyterian Church, Rock Island, or Ridgecrest Village, Davenport.
Ralph was born July 24, 1918 on the family farm near Grand Ridge, Illinois, the son of Ralph I. & Laura (Gebhardt) Sutton. He attended the University of Illinois, College of Engineering in Urbana, Illinois. During World War II, Ralph served in the U.S. Army. Prior to his military service, he had accepted a position with International Harvester Company, East Moline, Illinois and moved to the Quad-Cities. This is where he met and married Helen J. Hamann in Davenport. June 22 would have marked their 59th wedding anniversary.
Ralph’s passion was his family and his engineering work for International Harvester. While working for 39 years as an engineer for IH, he received numerous government patents for corn head designs. He retired from IH in 1980 as the Chief of Test Engineering at the Combine Plant. His proudest accomplishment was the development of the IH 234 Corn Picker which he often proclaims as the “best machine of its kind.” While the majority of IH 234 pickers harvested field corn, it had the capability to harvest sweet corn with little or no damage. Generous U.S. farmers documented this with a steady supply of sweet corn to the Sutton family during the testing.
After retiring, he continued a woodworking hobby by building tool cabinets for his sons, scale model farm sets for his grandsons, and kitchen sets for his granddaughters. These items are unique for their precision and detail, and remain heirlooms for the family. Ralph was a long time member and elder at South Park Presbyterian Church, Rock Island.
Those left to honor his memory include his wife, Helen; his daughter and son-in-law Patricia & Hugh David, of Michinhampton, England; his sons and daughters-in-law, Robert A. & Mary Lynn Sutton, Peoria, Illinois, and James W. & Constance Sutton, Racine, Wisconsin; eleven grandchildren; three great-grandchildren, the most recent born May 18; and his sister Betty Newtson, of Tucson, Arizona.
Currently his namesake, Ralph R. Sutton, is serving with the U.S. Army, 27th Engineering Battalion in Baghdad, Iraq as a demolition expert. He is expected to return home from his second tour of duty later this month.
Ralph was preceded in death by his sisters, Marge Thomas and Joyce Sutton; and his brother, Russell Sutton.
Online condolences may be expressed to the family by visiting Ralph’s obituary at www.McGinnis-Chambers.com.