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5401 Indian River Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
Phone: 757-366-9260
Fax: 757-366-9262
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Gayle Wesley

February 2, 1927 – November 24, 2018

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Obituary for Gayle Wesley Sutton

GAYLE WESLEY SUTTON, SR., 91, of Virginia Beach, fell asleep in the promise of the Resurrection on Saturday, November 24, after a long illness. Born on February 2, 1927, to Luther Hoskins Sutton and Bessie Williamson Sutton, he is predeceased by his parents, his beloved wife of 64 years, Shirley Eloise Ackiss Sutton, and his younger brother, Earl R. Sutton.
A standout in Norfolk Community High sports teams in his teens, it was his natural musical talent and love of the “Big Band” sound that soon lead Gayle, his brother, Earl, and other musical friends to establish a jazz ensemble when they were in their late teens. While Gayle also played the clarinet, piano and drums, the instrument he excelled in was the saxophone. Gayle attended Maury High School, where he met, courted and eventually married Shirley Eloise Ackiss. Together, they formed The Moonlighters Orchestra in which Shirley played piano and sang, and Gayle played sax and lead the orchestra. Gayle’s natural love for his music, his talent and insight into song arrangement, was such that he taught himself to read music, and early on began scoring the musical arrangements for each of the music instruments in his jazz orchestra, which he continued to do well into his 80s, leading what had then become The Gayle Sutton Orchestra in performances throughout Tidewater.
Gayle proudly served in the military – Navy from 1944 to 1946 (Pacific Fleet- Hawaii, Shanghai), and Air Force from 1950 to 1954, where he played clarinet in the Air Force Band stationed in Manilla, Phillipines.
Gayle was as a tug boat dispatcher his entire work career - several years at Colonna’s Shipyard and at Allied Marine Industries until his retirement. His love of music was never too far out of his mind while at work, as he was known to reuse the backside of many a work notice or memo to score a song or write up the playlist for a gig or band rehearsal.
Throughout his life, every Sunday morning found Gayle and his family at church for Sunday services, where Shirley played the organ, and every Wednesday night for Bible Class and the Norfolk Christadelphian Chapel on Llewellyn Street.
Every Thursday evening found Gayle and Shirley welcoming 20+ musicians – some known to them, others not – to crowd into the living room and breezeway of their home for the weekly “BRs” – Band Rehearsals – during which neighbors were known to come over with their lawn chairs to sit and enjoy.
As voracious as his love of music was, his love of God and study of the bible was even greater. He wore out two bibles from study and use, and the more he read and learned, the more he wanted to talk with others about God’s plan for Mankind. For decades, he was pen pals with fellow believers stateside as well as across the globe; he also wrote an essay entitled Is That Really Written In The Bible About Me?, and kept copies in the car to distribute throughout Tidewater. He also devotedly distributed his essay at churches and homes between Virginia Beach and South Hill, VA each year while driving with his family to youth camp, where he was youth activities director and teacher. For 10 years he and Shirley used their 1 week of summer vacation to serve the Christadelphian youth at summer camp. “Uncle Gayle” was renowned for the imaginative night hikes he lead the campers on, the “Cut Rate Car Shop” shack where all the campers built and honed their wooden “go-carts” for the Friday night race, and the
(in)famous cable swing he erected each year - a rudimentary pre-curser to today’s ziplines – that provided hours of thrills and entertainment for the campers, many of whom still remarked and reminisced about with him years later as adults.
Gayle is survived by his three children – Nancy Sutton Ravise-Noel, Karen Sutton and Gayle W. Sutton, Jr., grandchildren, Joshua Dillingham and Jason Dillingham (great-grandchildren, Keymani, Jasmyn and Jason Dillingham Jr.), nieces, Terry Ackiss Schuler, Laurie Sutton Goldschmidt and Ellen Sutton Rockwood, and nephews, John Ackiss, David Ackiss and Glen Ackiss.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to the staff of The Crossings at Independence and the staff of Interim Hospice for their exceptional and loving care of our dad, and for making his final years and days full of cheer, comfort and peace.
A graveside service will take place at 3p.m. on Thursday, November 29th at Elmwood Cemetery, 238 E Princess Anne Road, Norfolk, VA.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorials to benefit the Virginia Christadelphian Youth Camp to the attention of Thom Crabtree, 6029 Spinnaker Cove Court, Suffolk, VA 23435-3170.

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Service Information

Thursday, November 29th, 2018 3:00pm
Elmwood Cemetery
238 E Princess Anne Rd
Norfolk, VA 23510

Interment Information

Riverside Memorial Park
Address Not Available