Dr. Dale Sutton
Dr. Dale Sutton, West Shore Community College professor of biology emeritus, has authored a new e-book titled “The Campaign of Cole Stevenson.”
A work of fiction, Red Oak, Missouri, located in the Ozarks, is the setting for the e-book and a campaign which takes place in 1955.
Cole Stephenson, who spent four years in the army and four years at the University of Missouri earning a Bachelor of Science degree in political science with a minor in botany, is 27 years old and comes home after graduating from the university.
He comes to the conclusion one simply cannot live in a place as long as he has without becoming deeply attached in a way no one in his circle of friends could ever understand. He is drawn to his home town of Red Oak by a pull on his heart he cannot resist.
There are problems in Red Oak that can be corrected only by a long term commitment and Cole decides to become a candidate for state representative and his name will be on the ballot for the August primary election.
His opponent is the four-term incumbent Lennie Midelton. Midelton is incompetent, and for eight years has escaped political, social, or personal examination. It seems Midelton’s uniqueness is the lack of even one enviable quality.
Cole’s campaign strategy is to gain the support of five highly respected county citizens who can easily deliver a large block of votes. For help, he turns to an old political lion, retired State Senator C.J. Russell. He also receives help from Kitty Bird, a retired English teacher and the social conscious of McClary County.
Mrs. Anna Belle Brewster, a midwife and revered county citizen, becomes a trusted helper and Pastor Louis Hargrove gives Cole much needed support and advice. Willard Ruble, described by his sixth grade teacher as the only student she ever had who studied a dictionary, is Cole’s link to the timber owners and saw millers in the community. Staley Daniels, owner and editor of the Ozark Mountain Press, helps Cole to navigate the ins and outs of the public exposure his candidacy encounters.
With his political “pentagon” in place, Cole campaigns across his district. He is endorsed by some voters and skeptically questioned by others. During his campaign, he experiences rural democracy at its very best. He meets a female student who he had classes with but never knew until his campaign started.
His campaign comes to a conclusion in the courthouse as the votes are counted and the winner is selected.
Sutton says “The Campaign of Cole Stevenson” is not just about politics. It is about the heart and soul of a rural American town in the 1950’s.
“The greatest privilege a citizen can have is the right to vote and select those who represent them. Cole’s story could have taken place in Michigan or many other states. I selected the Missouri Ozarks as the setting because that’s where I lived the first 34 years of my life. My father was a saw miller and I worked with the mill workers, log cutters, farmers and construction workers; not a day passed that I did not have sawdust on my cap and hear talk about local politics.”
Sutton now lives with his wife Rose Marie near Scottville, and they spend the winter months in Ironton, where they both grew up.
Sutton began his teaching career at Garwood Elementary School in rural Missouri where he was the only teacher and taught all eight grades with an enrollment of 43 students. Nine of those students became teachers, principals or superintendents.
After teaching high school science for six years in Missouri, Sutton went back to graduate school and earned an MS degree in biology and PhD in botany. He was hired to teach at WSCC by Dr. John Eaton in 1970.
Sutton states, “Even though I started teaching when I was 23, it did not in any way diminish my relationships with the skilled workers, county officials and ‘Ozark philosophers’ I was surrounded by. When my wife and I moved to Michigan, it was not difficult to become a part of West Shore and the people the college serves.”
“I have great admiration for Dr. Eaton and his unique administrative skills that were needed as the first president of the college. I was also privileged to be at West Shore and work with Dr. William Anderson, the second president at West Shore. Dr. Anderson worked tirelessly to bring the message home that WSCC is absolutely essential to the well-being and quality of life in the college district.”
He concludes, “The years at West Shore were special in many ways. Both of our daughters graduated from there and I cannot think of any school, any groups of students, or any faculty and staff that could have given greater satisfaction to my teaching career of 38 years.”
“The Campaign of Cole Stevenson” is available from amazon.com in a Kindle format. Google - The Campaign of Cole Stevenson, Dale D. Sutton, and follow the instructions.
Author: Thomas Hawley | Executive Director of College Communications & Community Engagement