Thursday, August 5, 2004

Rev. James Sutton was foster parent to 148 children

He founded, rebuilt many churches

By Rebecca Goodman
Enquirer staff writer

GOSHEN - The Rev. James A. Sutton, the associate pastor of McKelvey Road Baptist Church in West Chester Township who was foster parent to 148 children, died July 13 of cancer at Hospice of Cincinnati. He was 82.

He had lived in Westwood before moving into his daughter's home in Goshen seven months ago.

A Southern Baptist pastor for more than 50 years, the Rev. Mr. Sutton's forte was founding churches or stepping in to rebuild an existing congregation in need.

He founded the Faith Baptist Church in Mount Healthy in 1956 and was founding pastor of Pisgah Heights Baptist Church (now called Liberty Heights Church) in West Chester Township in 1961.

He also served as pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Norwood, First Baptist Church of Silverton, Delhi Hills Baptist Church, and New Life Baptist Church and Northern Hills Baptist Church, which merged to become McKelvey Road Baptist Church.

He and his wife of 55 years, Barbara R. Zimmerman Sutton, who died in 1999, provided a home for 148 children over a 15-year period in the 1960s and 1970s.

"It was interesting," said his daughter Faith Finkes of West Chester Township. "I came home from school one time and we had four bassinets in the dining room."

Some of the children were there for hours, others for much longer, but "each child became a member of the family as if they had been born into it. We took them on vacation - just did everything with them," she said.

The Rev. Mr. Sutton graduated from Williamsburg (Ky.) High School in 1939 and preached his first sermon at age 19 at the Main Street Baptist Church in Williamsburg.

He majored in history and religion at Cumberland College, graduating in 1941. The following year, he attended Eastern State Teachers College (now Eastern Kentucky University) and taught in the Whitley County, Ky., schools for four years before moving to Cincinnati in 1948.

That year, he went to work as a guard on the gate at the Hilton Davis Chemical Co. in Cincinnati while studying chemistry at the University of Cincinnati.

He moved up to foreman and laboratory supervisor before becoming general plant manager in Greenville, S.C., in 1975. He returned to Cincinnati in 1981 and retired from Hilton Davis a few years later.

In addition to his daughter Faith, survivors include: another daughter, Donna Amrein of Goshen; two sons, James Jr. of Lexington and Darrell of Cheviot; a sister, Frances Bailey of Ann Arbor, Mich.; 11 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. Services have been held.

Burial was at Crown Hill Memorial Park in Colerain Township.

Memorials: Hospice of Cincinnati, P.O. Box 710784, Cincinnati 45271-0784.


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