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Family still seeking answers in sign maker's death

STOCKBRIDGE, Ga.  (WXIA) -- A family - and a community - are grieving for a father, husband, brother and friend who gave of himself, generously, to others who could never pay him back. 

Saturday the funeral for Ray Sutton will bring together people from across metro Atlanta saddened by his death.

He was killed due to an accident at work.  On October 7, he was thrown from a mechanical ladder, and he died ten days later from his injuries.

Friday, 11Alive News talked with Ray Sutton’s big brother, Frank -- about Ray, his family, his legacy.

Frank Sutton said it’s comforting to know that wherever you drive in metro Atlanta, you can see signs of Ray Sutton, signs of his work.  He was a sign maker.

Twenty years in the business.  Ray Sutton’s signs are everywhere.

That day, Ocboer 7, was the day before Ray’s 42nd birthday.  He was finishing a sign installation at Food Depot in Fairburn, and somehow, in an instant, he was thrown from the mechanical ladder.

“He was catapulted off of the ladder,” Frank said. 

Frank still hopes an investigation will pinpoint what caused the accident.

Ray died in the hospital on Oct. 17.

We talked with Frank at Ray’s sign shop in Stockbridge, where Ray made signs by himself and by hand.  Frank is pulling together sign makers who can complete Ray’s unfinished contracts, not only to honor the contracts as Ray would have wished, but also for Ray’s three boys, and his wife Theresa.

 “They’re still having to deal with and process that their father is not coming home,” Frank said.  “He’s never going to be forgotten as long as I can be part of their lives.  There’s still a part of my brother that’s there.”

Frank said they’re now hearing from people they never knew, but who knew Ray, because of what Ray did for them – such as hiring someone who needed some work, or making and donating signs to churches, the YMCA, other community groups and organizations.

At Dutchtown High School in Henry County, the Big D keeping watch over the Bulldogs’ field of battle -- that’s Ray.  It was Ray who made and donated Big D to the school.

Ray volunteered for his sons’ teams – football, soccer, baseball.  He worked with the YMCA, donating signs for the Y’s fundraisers.

“He’s just a loving person,” Frank said.  “A fun guy.  Couldn’t tell a joke without laughing before he finished it.”

Now that Ray’s family needs support, they are getting it, from people all over who loved and respected the quiet and funny and generous Ray Sutton.

“A lot of family members didn’t know that he was an organ donor,” Frank said.  “The nurse said that we already have five people that we’re gonna try to save lives with.  And that was comforting to know that my brother, even though he’s passed, he’s still giving.”

Even other sign companies, Ray Sutton’s competitors, are donating some of their profits to his family, through a SunTrust account, and a Go Fund Me account – signs of respect and affection for Ray Sutton that are everywhere.

Those wishing to donate may go to any SunTrust Bank and ask about the Theresa J. Sutton Trust.

And a family friend has set up a GoFundMe account for Ray Sutton’s family: https://www.gofundme.com/mv6eykjk

Ray Sutton’s funeral will be Saturday at 2:30 p.m., at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 230 Arnold Street, Hapeville.

The family will receive visitors Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Stockbridge First United Methodist Church.