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Shirley Sudduth, this is your life

Nancy Simpson/The Madera Tribune

Shirley Sudduth talks about her life, her family, and her service to the community during a “This is Your Life” program at Cedar Creek. Shirley and her husband, John, brought Relay for Life and Trees for Charity to Madera, both of which Madera enjoys annually after more than 40 years.


The Cedar Creek resident sat relaxed in the lobby as she shared stories of her life. About 20 residents filled the lobby to listen to Shirley Sudduth talk about her childhood, marriage, her family, and her community service.

Beth Adams, Vibrant Life Director at Cedar Creek Retirement, had arranged a program called “This is Your Life, Shirley Sudduth,” for July 29. She had spoken with Sudduth many times, and had heard what an interesting life she has had, full of adventure, as well as commitment to her family and community.

A display table of pictures, awards, and newspaper clippings gave a visual description of what Shirley Sudduth has done with her life. Adams said, “She brought some amazing programs here to Madera. She is a jack of all trades, she is.”

Then she said to Shirley, “I would love to hear the story of how you went to college and became a horse trainer.”

“I acknowledge I was always a blessed child,” Sudduth said. “I was adopted of older parents, and a bit spoiled. I loved riding horses, and I had some of my own. I received awards for riding. I went to Sweet Briar College in Virginia, but I met my husband, John Sudduth, in Kansas City, at a party. He was one of four brothers, but I got the pick of the litter. We’ve had a good life,” said Sudduth, “but he kept me rooted. I was used to having what I wanted, and he taught me what we could afford.”

The couple had three children in the first six years of their marriage, Robert, Linda, and Peter, all born in Kansas where John and Shirley lived.

“I was a stay-at-home mom,” she said.

John and the children loved to go camping, but Shirley said, “I would not sleep on the floor. So, we got a pop-up trailer, and we traveled with and without the children. As the children grew up and moved out of the house,” she said, “the fewer children we had with us, the bigger the motor home we got. We have traveled to all states, and have seen all they capital cities.”

They moved from Kansas to Madera in 1978. Immediately, they made this community their home. She said, “After we were here, we never wanted to be anywhere else. We first built a house on Mainberry, and set up roots here.”

After all three children were grown and moved away, Shirley wanted more to do with her time, so she began volunteering. She got a job working at the Chamber of Commerce in Madera. She had never had a job before, so she asked her husband, “Now what do I do?”

She enjoyed working at the Chamber, and it was where she blossomed. She was able to meet many Madera folks, many of which are still close friends today. The Sudduths have traveled all over the world, mostly with trips arranged in groups by the Chamber. They enjoyed their travels to China, Europe, Africa, Asia, on cruises, as well as all over the United States.

Needlepoint is one of her favorite crafts, and when she traveled, she always took her needlepoint with her. Sometimes she had to pack away all but one needle, because everything else had to go in her suitcase. She said she also loves to read and do puzzles.

John and Shirley Sudduth were volunteers in Kansas, before coming to Madera, but when they arrived, they brought several events with them. They were truly a team. They started Relay for Life and Trees for Charity, both of which Madera still sees annually after about four decades.

Shirley joined the Soroptimist Club, and the Madera County Arts Council under director Nancy Clute. She is also still an active member in P.E.O., a philanthropic organization who gives scholarships for women. The Sudduths have been very active members of Madera United Methodist Church, where Shirley was president of United Methodist Women for many years. John was active in the Breakfast Lions Club, and at each event, one could always find Shirley by his side working.

When asked about her life at Cedar Creek, she said, “I am very comfortable. I feel very safe. My children live in different states, and I am glad to be here. I like to be around people. I am very thankful for what I have. My life has been here in Madera, and I think I will just stay here until the end of my life.”



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