Cleo Dean Sutton, 73

| October 21, 2020 12:00 AM

Cleo Dean Sutton, 73, went to the arms of Jesus after a two-and-one-half year battle with cancer on Monday, Oct. 12, with his family by his side.

Born Sept. 24, 1947, in Park Rapids, Minnesota, Cleo was the fifth of eighth children belonging to Floyd and Geneva (McCreary) Sutton.

The family moved to Fort Benton, Montana when he was in the second grade. They moved around the northcentral Montana area for several years, as both parents taught in rural schools.

Cleo spent his summers working on several area ranches.

After graduating from Reed Point High School with five other young men in 1965, Cleo and his lifelong friend Terry Brumfield attended tech school in Fargo, North Dakota for a year. After four years in the Navy, including a stint in Vietnam, Cleo married Sharron (Sherry) Ardelean in San Diego Aug. 8, 1970. They celebrated 50 years this past August. The couple adopted a daughter, Nicole, in 1974.

Cleo started studying industrial arts while still in the Navy, but he spent time serving as a trooper on the California Highway Patrol, building houses in the San Diego area, and running the Conoco station in Reed Point over the next 10 years before enrolling at Western Montana College in Dillon in the fall of 1982 to get his teaching degree in Industrial Arts Education.

With teaching, Cleo found his true calling. After a summer stint student teaching at Job Corps in Anaconda, Cleo took his first teaching job in Superior, Montana in 1983.

He loved teaching and teasing the kids that came through his classes, who in turn called him “Mr. C” and “Mr. Cleo.” He moved to the higher education arena in 1989 when he returned to Western as a teacher of what had become the Industrial Technology Program, meeting many students who remained friends.

In 1996 he took a job at the Helena College of Technology, where he expanded the Construction Technology Program from a one-year program to two. He participated in a Fulbright program with South African students during this time, and also taught Japanese students visiting the U.S.

Cleo retired in 2001 and he and Sherry moved to Billings to be closer to their daughter and her family. Not one to actually “retire,” he built houses in the area before he went to work administering the Community-Based Job Training grant for the University System. He attempted to retire again in 2009 and the couple moved back to Superior. They built their retirement home and Cleo continued to work on construction projects around the area.

He loved his grandkids and spent many enjoyable hours with them fishing, hiking and working – and teasing!

Cleo is survived by his wife, Sherry; his daughter, Nicole (Mike) Donally; his grandchildren, Logan, Clayton, Luke, and Gretchen; two brothers, Ward and Doyle (Crystal); two sisters, Sharon Hopkins and Grace Deal; and many nieces and nephews who always got a kick out of Uncle Cleo.

A memorial service is planned for Spring 2021. Memorials may be made to Frontier Hospice of Missoula, or to a charity of one’s choice.