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Helen and Milton Sutton
In 1954, Helen and Milton bought La Grace Fashion Apparel, located in the historic Campbell Building on the northeast corner of Alaska and California in the West Seattle Junction. The store was closed in the mid-90s. Helen, by then, was in her 80s.
Helen also belonged to the Federated Women's Club of West Seattle. In 1970, the club received an award for "Most Outstanding Club in the United States" in the General Federation/Sears Roebuck and Co. Improvement Program. The club was awarded a $10,000 prize that they used to buy playground equipment for Lincoln Park and Fairmount Park Elementary School.
Helen Sutton, aka "Mrs. West Seattle," was a central figure in the creation and development of both the Arboretum and the College.
She had a keen interest in education from an early age. After graduating from Washington State University she taught at Wapato Junior and Senior High Schools. She met her husband, Milton, while teaching there. When they moved to Seattle, she taught at West Seattle High School.
Her interest in education led to her appointment to a Citizens Advisory Council which played an important role in the establishment of South Seattle Community College. She later was appointed by the governor of Washington State to the Seattle Community College District Board of Trustees. She served two terms, from 1975 to 1985.
Helen was a member of the South Seattle College Foundation and served as board member for many years, including several as president. She was a champion for the Arboretum project from the very beginning and served on the Foundation's Arboretum Committee for many years. In 1985, The Helen G. Sutton Rose Garden (above) was dedicated in her honor. You can read more about her remarkable career here.
In 1986, the Federated Women's Club provided the funding to build the Gazebo at the Arboretum. It was designed by Glen Cullor, then an engineer at Boeing. He and his wife, Peggy, a member of the FWC, were prominent supporters of the Arboretum. The Gazebo was built by "the husbands." One assumes that Milton was one of them.
This photo was taken in the early 1990s, before trees in the greenbelt began encroaching on the view of downtown Seattle. The students pictured here were taking part in a plant ID class.
Milton Sutton passed away in 1991.
A Conifer Garden in his memory was installed in two phases shortly thereafter, funded by friends and family. One phase features a dry streambed with large conifers, planted with complementary shrubs and ground covers, to create a woodland setting.
The second, located east of the Gazebo, across the path from the first, features dwarf conifers, heathers and heaths, providing texture and color in the winter months.
The garden was dedicated in April of 1993.
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