Professor Emeritus John Sutthoff, who taught journalism for nearly 20 years and served as an executive assistant to three University presidents, passed away December 25. He was 95.
Born November 6, 1925, in Eureka, he joined the US Navy at 17 years old and was stationed on the USS Rowe during World War II. After completing his service, he attended Saint Mary’s College and eventually earned a PhD in journalism with a minor in administration of higher education from Stanford University.
His career at Chico State began as an executive assistant to campus presidents Glenn Kendall, Robert Hill, and Stanford Cazier from 1960–72. He then became a professor of journalism and was the founding director and designer of a special program in communications, which was a forerunner to today’s College of Communication and Education.
Sutthoff is credited among those who established public radio and public TV for the North State region. With professor Garrett Starmer, he secured the license for an educational television station (now KIXE) in the University’s name, and he spent two years as KIXE board chairman and was co-founder of campus public radio station KCHO.
He also served as executive dean for Area Services, where he oversaw publicity, alumni, continuing education, placement, foundation, speaker’s bureau, public events and performances, and Commencement.
Retired staff member Sharon Salcido recalls that Sutthoff was her first supervisor at Chico State when he was Kendall’s executive assistant and describes him as “a real gem.” He and his family served as an extended family of hers, and she visited with him via Zoom every other week for the past few months.
Sutthoff was steadfastly dedicated to town-gown relationships and the greater community. He chaired Butte-Glenn United Way and City of Chico Personnel Board, and he was the first faculty member to serve as Chico Rotary Club president. He established the campus chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a community service fraternity. He was inducted into the Emeritus and Retired Faculty and Staff Association Hall of Honor in 2012.
After retiring in 1990, Sutthoff became a longtime participant in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, taking a variety of classes and enjoying the camaraderie with other lifelong learners.
He is survived by his children, Susan Birtcil, John Sutthoff Jr., Marie Knipe, and Annie Hamilton; seven grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. Due to the pandemic, interment will be private and a memorial service will be held later this year.
The University flag will be lowered Thursday, January 21, in his memory.