PROVIDENCE HIGH -- Those who knew Paul Sutton could tell you he loved
his family, he loved his students and he loved Providence High.
As an administrator and coach for nearly 15 years at the small
Catholic school, Sutton touched countless thousands of young lives with
his compassion, knowledge and understanding.
Sutton helped elevate Providence to a bastion of academic excellence,
as well as a respected institution for quality sports teams.
Sutton’s association with the school ended last summer when he died of
colon cancer at the age of 41. But although he may be gone, he is still
revered and cherished as an icon at Providence.
It is because of Sutton’s undaunted work for the school that a
proposed facility at Providence should be named the Paul Sutton
However, the new center might not carry the former athletic director
and coach’s name.
The school could be in the market to receive a generous donation of an
estimated $1 million from the Fritz Burns Foundation for a new activities
But there is a chance the foundation will put its own name on the
facility, and not that of Paul Sutton.
Sutton’s widow, Dana Sutton, said she has drafted a letter and plans
to send it to the Fritz Burns Foundation explaining what it would mean --
to not only the Sutton family, but those who knew the coach -- to have
the center named in his honor.
“I have a lot of respect for the foundation,” said Dana. “It has given
a great deal of money to Catholic charities and it is very generous.
“But I think that maybe it doesn’t know all about Paul and what he’s
meant to the school. That’s what I want them to know.”
The foundation -- which develops real estate properties -- has a long
history of donating to catholic causes.
Dana Sutton said she realizes that a $1 million donation is an
incredibly generous contribution to the school. And she admits she has no
concrete solution to remedy the situation. She only hopes the foundation
will find some way to include Paul Sutton’s memory.
“I’m not trying to have his memory degraded by having his name forced
on a small part of the building,” Dana Sutton said. “We just want to
honor his memory.”
Providence Principal Sister Lucille Dean said she couldn’t comment
about the donation, or the specific naming of the gym. However, she did
make a comment about Paul Sutton.
“It is certainly the intention at Providence to honor Paul Sutton,”
she said. “And it is not going to be just a brick in a wall, or something
The Fritz Burns Foundation declined to comment about the matter and
referred all inquires to Providence.
What upsets Dana most about this entire situation is how those at
Providence have not kept their word about the naming of a new facility.
According to Dana, when Paul was ill and it was likely he would not
survive his bout with cancer, the school assured him that he would be
remembered by naming any future facility after him.
“This honor was offered to Paul before he died,” said Dana. “It was a
done deal that any activities center would be named after him.
“Paul left this earth thinking this facility would have his name on
it. It was supposed to be a legacy for his children and the people who
Dana is hoping her stand on this matter doesn’t upset anyone at the
“I love Providence,” she said. “This is just something that I needed
This is a situation with no clear-cut solution.
On one hand, if an organization wants to donate $1 million to a school
for a facility, it has the right for it to carry its name.
On the other hand, Paul Sutton was Providence High. The school was
part of his life and dedicated a good part of it to the institution. And
if the school indeed promised any new activities center be named after
him, he deserves such an honor.
I just hope those at the the Fritz Burns Foundation will come up with
a solution that will both benefit its organization, as well as pay
tribute to a man that was loved by thousands.
Paul Sutton deserves no less.
Although the foundation has had success developing properties, Paul
Sutton developed something inherently more precious -- young minds.
JEFF TULLY is the sports editor of the Burbank Leader. he can be
reached at 843-8700.