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    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet.” — William Shakespeare

What’s in a name?

If your name is Sutton, it brings to mind rodeos, politics, health care, and investments.

It’s not as common as say, Olson, or Larson, in South Dakota, but the name seems to crop up all over the state. And the odd thing is, most of the Suttons are not related.

Take Billie Sutton, of Burke, for instance, known for his work in the state Legislature and for a freak accident that ended a promising career in rodeo.

He’s been in the news, of late, as a potential candidate for higher office. As minority leader in the state Senate, he has shown some leadership capabilities that would carry over in a broader election.

If he did decide to run for a statewide office, one advantage would be his name recognition.

Matt Sutton, for example, now of Sioux Falls but formerly of Agar, is no kin, though he shares the same name and an even longer record of public service. He too served in the state Legislature and also the state Board of Regents. More recently, Matt was one of the founders of Sutton Bay golf course and hunting lodge above Pierre on the Missouri River, which used land his grandfather, Ed, purchased in 1896.

Still another non-relative is Bob Sutton, Pierre, formerly president of the South Dakota Community Foundation. Today he is executive Vice President of Human Resources for Avera Health and also serves on the state Board of Regents.

Nor is Billie or the other Suttons related to Dan Sutton, Flandreau, who served in the state Legislature a decade ago.

However, there is a connection between Matt and the Sutton famous for supplying stock to rodeos around the country, including the Black Hills Stock Show Rodeo, which Jim Sutton and his wife, Julie, founded. A fifth generation of Suttons is today involved in the Sutton Rodeo Company, which has been honored many times over the years for its innovation and service to rodeo. Some may remember Jim as the first SDSU player drafted by the National Basketball Association.

Matt Sutton and Jim are first cousins, and as Matt explains it, his grandfather was the first Sutton in rodeo, which went dormant during the Great Depression, but was revived by Jim’s father and expanded by Jim.

Of these, and others with the same last name, Matt says this:

“I know them all and they are all friends, and somewhere we might be related, but not closely.”

Feb. 24, 2016