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Sutton, Jeff (1913-1979) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Sutton, Jeff (1913-1979)
Fuller Form: Jefferson Sutton

Historical Note:

Jefferson Sutton was born on July, 25, 1913 in Los Angeles, California. He began his career at age fourteen as an office boy in the editorial department of the Los Angeles Examiner where he worked for many years. He was a staff photographer-writer with International News Photos from 1937 to 1940.

Sutton enlisted in the Marine Corps from 1932 through 1936, and re-enlisted at the outset of World War II, serving with the Second Marine Division in the South and Central Pacific areas. Later, he wrote a novel called The River about his experience on Guadalcanal.

In the 1940s, his work experience included jobs such as a reporter, news and portrait photographer, and housing expediter. He also worked as an assistant to San Diego Mayor Harley Knox. After receiving his Master's Degree in Experimental Psychology at San Diego State University, Jefferson Sutton worked as a research engineer in human factors engineering in the aerospace industry for several years before turning to editorial public relations with General Dynamics/Astronautics. As a Convair human engineer, he explored man's adaptation to machines and established his business as an editorial consultant to industry.  Several years later he returned to his "true love" – writing. During the many years of his writing career which started in 1958 with the publication of his science fiction novel First on the Moon, Jefferson Sutton remained a free-lance editorial consultant to aerospace industries in 1960-1979. He published articles in related professional magazines.

Sutton published 23 novels in more than 10 languages. In one of his interviews he said that writing came naturally to him: his father was the editor in the Los Angeles Examiner for 35 years; his grandfather had experience with publishing newspapers. Sutton's writing includes a number of science fiction books, war, political, and juvenile books. Sutton wrote that his greatest interest had always been people and the settings in which they function. As a writer, Sutton stayed in areas in which he was most knowledgeable – space, astronautics, war, newspaper backgrounds, and in areas of pure imagination (science fiction). In 1962 he wrote the novel Apollo at Go, a prophetic book about man's first landing on the moon. In his fictitious account, he missed the eventual, actual 1969 landing on the moon by 9 days. Among his earlier books about space exploration are Bombs in Orbit (1959) and Spacehive (1960).

Jefferson Sutton married Eugenia Geneva Hensen on February 1, 1941. Eugenia G. Hansen was born in Denmark, Wisconsin. She went to the University of Wisconsin and then transferred to the University of California at Los Angeles where she earned her Bachelor's degree in economics and met Jefferson Sutton. After the World War II, the couple lived in the San Diego area.

Eugenia (Jean) Sutton worked as a secretary for the San Diego City Council (1949-1952) and administrative assistant in San Diego State College (1953-1955) before receiving her Master's degree in education from San Diego State University and began teaching at the Grossmont Union High School District in 1959. The Suttons had two children: Christopher and Gale.

Jean Sutton participated in the editing of 15 novels written by her husband, starting with his first fiction book First on the Moon. Jean and Jeff Sutton first collaborated as coauthors on the juvenile book The Beyond (1968). They published some juvenile books as coauthors, including The River, The Programmed Man, Lord of the Stars, and others. Two of them, The Beyond and The Programmed Man, were Junior Literature Guild selection.

Jefferson Sutton died on January 31, 1979 at his home in La Mesa at the age of 65.

Note Author: Svetlana Kondratenko

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