Mendocino Stories

Uncle Paul Portrait

In admiration of “Uncle” Paul Sutterley
For his contributions to Friendship Park and our community

by Pattie DeMatteo

I first met Uncle Paul because of my work with the Mendocino 4th of July Parade. He entered the parade every year as “The Old Coot from Coot Hollow”. He pulled a wagon with Ol’ Woof (a stuffed animal) riding in it, carried an American flag, and dressed in red, white and blue. He was a proud survivor from the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the driving force that got Friendship Park built. Above all, he had limitless energy for his friends and his community.

I knew him best from the time I joined the Friendship Park board in 1991 until his death on October 15, 1994. He was a father figure who listened, advised, encouraged and praised. At Easter he appeared at doorsteps with chocolate eggs, dressed up as the Easter Bunny, complete with bunny ears. He would leave pages of to-do lists, tacked to my front door. Even on the night before he died, he handed out two pages of directives, hand written on his inevitable yellow legal pad, making sure that we survivors “stayed the course”.


What Others Have Said:


He had his own style – that dear craggy face with those devilish eyes and that white, white hair, the ever visible earring which he wore even before it became fashionable. Sometimes he looked like a flag all in red, white and blue. Always there was the hat. Sometimes it was covered with flags, balloons, flowers, whatever, and always there was the kerchief around his neck.


Uncle Paul Portrait

  Paul Groundbreaking

There is a great story about “Ol’ Woof in Sheepskin”. Ol’ Woof, a stuffed animal, a sheep in wolf’s clothing:

“Ol’ Woof”, the stuffed animal, rode in the car with him everywhere. The First was given to Paul by his sister-in-law. He decorated it with an earring, a necklace, and a kerchief so as to be an image of himself. Then one day, “Ol’ Woof” was taken from his car, a Nissan 300ZX. The thief would never know how devastating this was to Paul to have lost his comrade and mascot. The toy store had no more so what was he supposed to do? He did what Paul always did. He wrote to the president of Dakin and explained what had happened and, no doubt, moved everyone to tears. Since the company no longer manufactured this item, the original wolf was taken out of warehouse storage and sent to Paul as a birthday gift.


Uncle Paul Portrait

Everyone seems to have known Paul, which comes as no surprise since it’s doubtful he ever met a stranger. As is engraved on his memorial plaque at the Park, facing west, he was “A friend to many and the truest friend of Friendship Park. The leader of the parade, the man at the helm, a man of many hats …”


We love you, Uncle Paul.


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