Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Counce’s Patsy Sutton eulogy heartfelt
FILE - In this Friday, May 19, 2006, file photo, Patsy Sutton, right, wife of then-Oklahoma State men's basketball coach Eddie Sutton, smiles as she sits with granddaughter Hallie Sutton, left, as she listens to her husband give his resignation speech during a news conference in Stillwater, Okla. Patsy Sutton, 74, died Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, at a Tulsa, Okla., hospital, officials at Ninde Brookside Chapel say. (AP Photo/File)
FAYETTEVILLE To his patients, he is cardiologist Dr. Jim Counce.
To those recalling his Arkansas Razorbacks basketball days lettering from 1975-1978 under Eddie Sutton as the defensive forward teamed with the Triplets, Ron Brewer, Sidney Moncrief and Marvin Delph, he will always be Jimmy Counce.
Now to the Sutton family perhaps he is St. James.
Counce eulogized Patsy Sutton during a funeral service Friday in Tulsa, and his delivery was so down to earth it seemed his words were inspired from above.
Patsy Sutton, Eddie Sutton’s wife since 1958, died last week after suffering a stroke, and there was a massive audience in attendance at the massive First United Methodist Church.
Dr. Counce recalled his days as an 18-year-old freshman - homesick, playing for the toughest coach of his life, needing a mom on hand for support and having one, as did the entire team did, thanks to the the coach’s wife.
Jimmy Counce came to the UA well-schooled in academics, had the benefit of a solid family upbringing, but he recalled needing Patsy Sutton’s help almost as much as Darrell Walker, who came to Fayetteville from the streets of Chicago after one year of junior college in Fort Smith.
Walker, a Razorbacks All-American, lettering from 1981-1983, credits the Suttons, Patsy as much or more than Eddie, with saving his life from the dead-end path he saidhis old life was taking him.
Walker went on to a 10-year career as an NBA player and is currently a New York Knicks assistant, but he never forgot about the lessons ingrained in him by Patsy and Eddie.
Walker left the UA without finishing his degree, but he treasures that the Suttons were in attendance when he walked through last month’s fall semester commencement ceremonies, with Eddie presenting his diploma, 30 years after his playing days had ended.
Counce conveyed all that and them some at Friday’s service.
With humor and poignancy, Counce talked how Patsy helped broaden the interests of basketball players not much interested in broadening their interests beyond basketball.
Counce said programs for athletes in what universities now call “life skills” were provided by Patsy to those Razorbacks basketball teams back then and that they stuck for life.
He even wrote a book because of her, possibly without mentioning her name.
Counce recalled the 1977 Razorbacks about to take their exhibition games tour of Brazil, and Patsy just mentioned how much keeping a journal of their journey might mean to them some day.
At Friday’s service, Counce proudly held that hefty journal aloft.
He said he rereads it often, that it chronicles his “trip of a lifetime” and that he treasures it as much or more than anything he experienced as a Razorback.
Given that Jimmy Counce experienced Arkansas’ first Final Four since 1945, plus two Southwest Conference championships and firsthand helped advance Razorbacks basketball from athletic department second-class to the statewide front page, that journal to him is a treasure beyond riches never to be forgotten.
It’s a cinch the Sutton family treasures him no less.
Sports, Pages 16 on 01/14/2013