Patsy Sutton, wife of Eddie Sutton, dies
BY Staff Reports
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
1/08/13 at 3:33 PM
Patsy Sutton, wife of former Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton and the “rock” of the state’s most prominent basketball family, died Tuesday. She was 74.
The mother of Oral Roberts head coach Scott Sutton and ORU assistant coach Sean Sutton, Patsy Sutton had been hospitalized since suffering a stroke on Dec. 28.
“The Sutton family would like to thank everyone for the prayers and thoughts that have surrounded and been given to us the last days we have been at Saint Francis Hospital,” Patsy Sutton’s oldest son, Steve, said in written statement Tuesday.
“We have lost a wonderful and cherished wife, mother, mother-in-law, friend and ‘our honey.’ Thank you again for the outpouring of support you have given our family.”
Scott Sutton described Patsy Sutton as a “special lady.” During a 2006 interview, Sean Sutton said this about her: “We’ve been through a lot of challenging experiences as a family. My mother has always been the rock, the steady hand.”
A memorial service is scheduled 2 p.m. Friday at the First United Methodist Church, 1115 S. Boulder Ave.
Patsy Wright grew up in Stillwater and met Eddie when she was an OSU student and Eddie was a Cowboy guard. She had gone to high school with OSU coach Henry Iba’s son, Moe, and apparently gained Mr. Iba’s approval to date one of his players.
“When coach heard that Ed was going out with me, he told Moe to bring the yearbook to him,” Patsy Sutton said in a 1992 book about OSU’s basketball history. “He looked at my picture and told Moe ‘that’s OK’.”
Patsy and Eddie were married after he graduated in 1958.
Launched was the journey of a coach’s wife who helped her family and players who viewed her as a mother figure through the best of times (three Final Fours) and difficult times, including a dark period at Kentucky, a 2001 plane crash that killed 10 members of OSU’s basketball crew and family struggles that became headline news.
In 2006, former Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler wrote that Patsy Sutton was the person who “quietly became the anchor who never allowed triumphs or troubles to divide or destroy her family.”
Patsy became a junior high teacher when Eddie Sutton started his coaching career at Central High School in Tulsa. She retired from teaching when they started a family and the Suttons embarked on an adventure that led to coaching stops at College of Southern Idaho, Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and OSU. Eddie finished his career with a brief interim stint at San Francisco, but Patsy elected to stay home so she could be close to grandchildren who called her “honey.”
While at Arkansas, Patsy became an unofficial team counselor. It was there that she encountered Darrell Walker, a tough Chicago kid who had problems with authority. Walker, who became an NBA player and coach, credited Patsy for changing his life.
“I owe everything to coach Sutton and Mrs. Sutton,” Walker said in 1995. “I love Mrs. Sutton. If it hadn’t been for Mrs. Sutton, I don’t know what would have happened to me.”
Patsy, when asked about Walker’s turnaround, said, “As a mother of sons, I picked up on his many good qualities and I thought he had many. I tried to make him part of the family. I really wasn’t trying to force him to change, but just try to show him a different way of life. He has to take some credit for responding.”
A program crisis got personal when Kentucky fell on hard times and was investigated by the NCAA. Fans targeted Sean and alleged he was a Wildcat only because of nepotism.
Patsy said it was not a bad experience because it made Sean stronger and it taught the family how to deal with adversity.
“Nobody gets to live out the fairy tale,” she said in 2004. “So we went through that together as a family and it made us closer as a family. We talked each other through it and supported each other and came out of it OK. Better, actually.”
The silver lining of the Kentucky ordeal was it resulted in the Suttons returning home. Eddie, after a hiatus from coaching, rebooted his career at his alma mater. He twice took the Cowboys to Final Fours and Patsy got to take more “sons” under her wing.
“She’s like a mother to us,” former OSU guard Corey Williams said in 1992.
Patsy said in 2004 that her husband was having the time of his life at OSU. By then, life had more perspective because the Cowboys were three years removed from the plane crash tragedy.
Patsy was the person Eddie leaned on in the aftermath and she provided support when family members battled addiction issues.
Of course, Patsy was a part of cherished moments, too. She was along for a thrill ride as Eddie went to 26 NCAA Tournaments and accumulated 804 NCAA Division I victories.
“Certainly, it’s been more than we dreamed of when we started,” she once told the Oklahoman.
“It’s been fun and exciting, and it’s been stressful. But mostly, it’s been gratifying every step of the way.”
Scott Sutton once said his mother understands the basketball business better than a lot of people in it.
Said Eddie Sutton in a 2003 interview, “When I’ve been inducted into different halls of fame, I’ve always shared it with Patsy, because she’s been my biggest supporter. I can’t say enough good things about her.”
After Patsy was hospitalized, Sean Sutton described his mother as “the toughest person I know.” He said this about her in 2006: “She’s a very loving and caring wife, mother and grandmother. My dad’s often said that there’s a special place in heaven for coaches’ wives.”
Then-Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton with his wife Patsy receiving an award for winning 700 games in 2002. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World file
Eddie Sutton and his wife Patsy laugh as they listen to Sutton's former player and current ORU assistant coach Corey Williams during a press conference at Gallagher-Iba Arena announcing Sutton's retirement in 2006. Patsy is holding granddaughter Hallie Sutton. Tulsa World file
Eddie and Patsy Sutton watch as their son Scott coaches ORU in an NCAA Tournament game in 2008. Tulsa World file
Scott Sutton gets a hug from his mother Patsy Sutton after a press conference naming him ORU basketball coach in 1999. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World file