Prominent Attorney and Civic Leader Buddy Sutton Dies at 84

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William H. “Buddy” Sutton, long-time partner in the Little Rock-based law firm Friday, Eldredge & Clark, and a well-known figure in Arkansas’ legal, business and civic communities for decades, died Thursday morning. He was 84 years old.

Since his retirement as managing partner of the firm in 2005, Sutton had been serving in an of counsel role at the Friday firm, which also has offices in Rogers and Fayetteville.

“The Friday, Eldredge & Clark family is deeply saddened by the passing of Buddy Sutton and our prayers and deepest sympathies go out to his wonderful family,” J. Shepard Russell, III, managing partner of Friday, Eldredge & Clark, said in a news release. “The impact he made not only on our firm but on countless lives through his service to his church, and civic and service organizations cannot be overstated. He leaves a legacy of influence that will be felt for generations to come,” Russell said.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m., Monday, July 6, at Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock.

Sutton was a leading figure in Arkansas’ legal community, having been named Lawyer of the Year by the Arkansas Bar Association in 1990 and Outstanding Defense Attorney by the Arkansas Association of Defense Counsel in 1994.

A Fellow in the American Bar Association and the American Trial Lawyers Association, Sutton was also a member of the Pulaski County Bar Association, which he served as President in 1992-93.

He was a member of the board of trustees of Baptist Health, Ouachita Baptist University and Pulaski Technical College Foundation. He was a past member of the board of directors of Dillard’s Inc., and was a member and past President of Fifty for the Future. Sutton also chaired the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Foundation and served on the University of Arkansas’ 21st Century Campaign.

“There’s hardly an organization or worthy cause that Buddy wasn’t somehow involved in during his life,” said Kevin A. Crass, a member of the firm’s management committee. “He got involved in causes because he believed in their missions and wanted to do his part to make them successful. And he did.”

In 1989, Sutton served as chairman of the Arkansas Billy Graham Crusade. In 2002, he was the recipient of the National Conference for Community and Justice of Arkansas’ National Humanitarian of the Year Award. Two years later, Sutton was named Arkansan of the Year by Easter Seals.

“One of the most impressive aspects of Buddy’s life is how many people and organizations he touched,” said Troy Wells, president and CEO of Baptist Health. “He certainly made a profound impact on Baptist Health through his service on our Board.”

Sutton earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in 1959 from the University of Arkansas where he previously was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree. While at the University of Arkansas, he also served as President of the Student Body, Student Attorney General and was a member of the Razorback football team.