Leroy Sutton
Leroy Sutton
Funeral services were held last week for a beloved figure at Madison-Ridgeland Academy after he selflessly served the school for 31 years.

Leroy Sutton was something of a celebrity on the MRA campus. Sutton was fatally injured in an accident while cutting down some trees on his property on Feb. 19.

Every morning he was on the grounds before school started going through a routine that opened the gate off Old Canton Road and took him through nearly every building unlocking doors and turning on hall lights. Sutton was known for two defining features, his backwards Dallas Cowboys hat and a warm smile.

Memorial ceremonies were held both at the school in the gym and Family Memorial Funeral Home last week. Funeral services were held at Zion Chapel AME Zion Church on Saturday morning.

The school celebrated his life on February 24 by wearing Dallas Cowboys gear and backwards hats.

Stephen Force, director of facilities, said that he has not met anyone in his 15 years at the school that knows more about the grounds than Sutton.

“I have been his supervisor for three years and he called me ‘boss’ but he taught me everything I know about this campus,” Force said. “You are talking about someone that will be very hard to replace. He always came to work with a good attitude and more often than not his favorite phrase when I would ask him to do something was ‘already taken care of.’ I could talk all day about him.”

Frances Dykes, communications teacher and director of alumni development, added that if you asked Sutton for help “you considered it done” and noted a common refrain form visiting alumni was “is Leroy still running the school?”

MRA Alumnus and English Teacher, Laurie Babb, wrote a post for the school Facebook page that included details like his hat and morning routine.

“This morning, MRA lost a faculty member who has long been looked at as one of the people who is simply invaluable to our staff. For 31 years, he has seen the school grow, helped to keep it running smoothly, and done everything needed to make our beloved academy thrive and succeed--and he did all of this without ever complaining and with joy in his heart,” Babb wrote in part.

Dykes’ communication class publicly recognized Sutton two years ago during homecoming festivities.

 They named him the first “Homecoming Hero,” and award that will continue to be named every year in his honor.

Dykes said she has heard countless stories of Sutton helping students change a tire or help with their car both in the school parking lot and around town on the side of the road.

“Leroy made this school a better place, he led by example, he loved Jesus Christ, he had a joyful spirit, he worked hard, he was a problem solver, he was a family man, and he was an MRA Patriot. I don’t know what we will do without him. He is greatly missed,” Dykes said.

The school is also raising money to cover funeral costs and assist the Sutton family during this difficult time. Nearly 250 people have more than tripled the original goal of $5,000 on generosity.com, an offshoot of IndieGoGo.

For more information on helping the Sutton family visit the Leroy Sutton Memorial page at generosity.com/memorial-fundraising/leroy-sutton-memorial or contact the School.