Carolyn Ella Sutton Belden

Date of Birth

May 14, 1923

Date of Death

March 24, 2013

City of Death

Santa Barbara

May 14, 1923 – March 24, 2013

Carolyn Ella Sutton Belden was the oldest daughter of Elmer Morehouse and Judita Morelli. She was preceded in death by her two younger sisters, Thelma Morehouse and Ellen Meszaros.

Carolyn was proud to be a sixth generation Santa Barbaran and she traced her lineage back to her maternal 3rd Great Grandfather Juan Agustin Leyva, who left Los Alamos, Sonora in 1781 as part of the Rivera y Moncada Expedition. Rivera was killed during the trip, but the expedition to establish the Santa Barbara Presidio continued under the leadership of Governor Neve and Father Serra. They arrived at the site of the present day Presidio in 1782. Juan Agustin Leyva’s arrival predated the Presido of Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Mission.

Carolyn Belden’s maternal Great Grandfather, Alejandro Morelli, arrived in Santa Barbara by ship in the mid 1800s after a perilous voyage from Italy, around South America’s Cape Horn.

Her paternal Grandfather, Charles Morehouse, arrived in Goleta during the mid 1800s after leaving Nebraska with his wife and family in a covered wagon. Her roots are deeply intertwined with the earliest European settlement of Santa Barbara.

She attended La Cumbre Junior High, and Santa Barbara High School. During World War II, she met a young Marine Pilot, Joseph (Jay) Sutton, stationed at the Goleta Air Field. After a short courtship, they married on January 15, 1944, in Santa Barbara. Carolyn and Jay moved to Balboa Island during the time that Jay was stationed at the El Toro Marine Base. Carolyn moved back to Santa Barbara in 1945 when Jay’s carrier unit shipped out, on their way to fight in the Pacific Theater.

Carolyn and Jay’s first child, Robert Penn (Bob), was born in November 1945 at St. Francis Hospital in Santa Barbara while Jay was still overseas. When Jay was discharged from the service, he moved his new family to Topeka, Kansas, where he joined his father at the Nehi Bottling Company of Topeka. Carolyn and Jay were also blessed with two more sons, William Jay (Bill) and Steven Norris (Steve) Sutton.

Carolyn and Jay loved to travel and were fortunate to visit much of the world, including Europe, Africa, South America, Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean. Jay preceded Carolyn in death in 1979 after 35 years of marriage.

In 1981, Carolyn met William (Bill) Belden, and after a whirlwind romance, they married in April of that year, in Topeka, Kansas. Bill was a great dancer, and they belonged to several dance clubs in Topeka, including the Helianthus Club. Bill also loved travel and they went on many fabulous trips, including a weeklong trip on the luxurious Orient Express. They both loved Hong Kong and visited that city many times. Another special favorite was London.

After Bill’s retirement from The Franklin Life Insurance Company in 1995, he and Carolyn bought a home in the hills above Santa Barbara. Nearly 50 years after she left, Carolyn had returned to her beloved hometown, Santa Barbara.

Bill and Carolyn loved gardening, and together, they created a beautiful yard for their home, with gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains. Carolyn also enjoyed interior decorating and filled their home with treasures that the two of them found on their world travels. Bill Belden passed away December 26, 2012.

Carolyn was a great wife and mother, and will be sadly missed by her family; Bob & Jo Ann Sutton, Bill Sutton and his companion Mindy Meacham, Steve & Marla Sutton, and her stepson Scott Belden and his wife Lisa. She also leaves seven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

The family would like to thank Carolyn’s physicians: Dr. Barbara Hrach, Dr. Ronald Ungerer, Dr. Alan Brown and Dr. Michael Hullander for their compassionate care. The family would also like to thank the nurses and caregivers at Mission Terrace, Cliff View Terrace and Maravilla for their loving care during the twilight of Carolyn’s life.

Services will be held at 11:00 AM, April 6, 2013 at the Mt. Hope cemetery Mausoleum in Topeka, Kansas.


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