Elenes B. Sutphin; teacher, clergy spouse


MERIDIAN — Elene Brooks Sutphin, 92, a retired teacher and clergy spouse, died March 3, 2009.She had battled the effects of a stroke for the past seven years.

A memorial service was held March 7 at Central United Methodist Church, with the Rev. David Price, the Rev. Bob Whiteside and the Rev. Johnny Crosby officiating. Honorary pallbearers were the Williams Sunday School Class. Stephens Funeral home of Meridian is in charge of local arrangements.

The daughter of John and Ida Brooks of Mathiston, Mrs. Sutphin exhibited interests and talents as a child that she would use later as the wife of a Methodist minister and college president.

While a student at Wood Junior College, she was president of the YWCA, worked with the college newspaper, was a member of the drama club, sang in the choir, the a capella choir and the double quartette.

She also met her future husband of 68 years, Felix Sutphin. Both were involved in many of the same activities as students including acting together in the play, Hold Everything. They also worked together during the summers on the Wood Junior College farm.

After graduating from Wood, she taught at Simpson School in Choctaw County. She was instrumental in establishing extracurricular activities that enhanced the educational experiences of her students.

The Sutphins were married after he graduated from Millsaps College and the couple moved to Warm Springs, Ga., so that Felix Sutphin could attend Candler School of Theology of Emory University. While there, Mrs. Sutphin taught at Warm Springs and also served as a social caseworker with the Fulton County Department of Public Welfare.

The Sutphins returned to Mississippi upon his graduation from Emory and the couple began their full-time ministry in the North Mississippi Conference of The Methodist Church.

Mrs. Sutphin was active in the work of the Methodist church, especially the Women's Society of Christian Service. She held numerous leadership positions and represented the state at national and world conferences. While serving a four-year team as president of the North Mississippi Methodist Conference Women’s Society she led the group to adopt the Charter of Racial Policies of the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries. Also during her tenure, the state hosted the the Southeastern Jurisdiction of Methodist Women when they met at Jackson St. Luke's Methodist Church.

Mrs. Sutphin acted in stage productions, designed inspirational church worship centers, produced and directed the Elene Sutphin Beauty Pageants and May Day celebrations and co-authored the play Keeping Christmas. Mrs. Sutphin was frequently called upon to teach Bible study courses and lead spiritual life retreats. She also was the first woman to serve as president of the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Methodist Foundation.

She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Ida Brooks of Mathiston; two brothers, Vernon Brooks of Mathiston and Joe Ed Brooks of Eupora; and two sisters, Mae Oswalt of Ackerman and Bernice Brooks of Mathiston.

Survivors include: husband, Felix Sutphin of Meridian; son, Phil Sutphin of Decatur; and two grandsons.

Memorials may be sent to the Elene Brooks Sutphin Healthcare Simulation Fund in care of the East Central Community College Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 129, Decatur, MS 39327.