Date of Interview: September 29, 2001
Location: East St. Louis, IL
Interviewers: Leon Edmond, Veida Holdman, Lauren Kerestes, and John Sanders
Architectural students breaking
ground for ramp at NTAC office
Cutting wood for bus stop benchs
Richard M. Suttle Sr. has been an active member of the Emerson Park
Development Corporation, a neighborhood organization within the East St.
Louis community, for many years. He received an Associates Degree in Life
Insurance. He is a retired life insurance salesman of Texas based
American National Insurance. He is the oldest of four siblings, all
born in East St. Louis. He has one son, Richard Suttle, Jr. It was at Mr.
Suttle home that the first meeting was held with former University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign staff member, Ken Reardon, to begin planning the ESLARP
and NTAC programs. Raised in the East St. Louis after the age 9, Mr. Suttle
has a great familiarity with the history, dynamics, and geography of the
area. He has seen the changes the city has gone through politically, culturally,
socially, and economically, for better or worse, over the past 50 years.
In addition to serving as President of the Emerson Park Development Corporation,
Mr. Suttle also sits on the boards of the East St. Louis Community Action
Network (ESLCAN), the New Spirit Organizing Office, and the Urban Resources
Partnership Program. He is a member of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church.
SUMMARY OF THE INTERVIEW
This project is an attempt to preserve and create a permanent oral history
for the future East St. Louis residents, students and faculty at the University
of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and generations to come. We had the privilege
of interviewing Mr. Suttle Sr. regarding the history of East St. Louis.
The first part of the interview is more personal, to give the readers and
listeners an idea of what kind of man Richard Suttle, Sr. is, his background,
and a time frame for the events he relayed to us. Then next section deals
with the history and changes that have occurred more generally in East
St. Louis. Following that section, Mr. Suttle, Sr. paints a picture of
his neighborhood, Emerson Park, and the changes and challenges that this
particular neighborhood has faced. Mr. Suttle, Sr. was very generous, patient,
and cooperative in sharing his life, struggles, and successes as an active
member of the East St. Louis community. The atmosphere of the interview
was very informal, relaxed, and candid.
QUOTE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE INTERVIEW
"I think they've done a really good job since I've been on ESLARP, before it was ESLARP. We planned all this stuff in my living room with Ken Reardon and some other professors from the college. The whole idea was for them to come down here and teach a class in urban renewal and teach the people who live here how to revitalize their neighborhood. and that's how all this got started. But they've done a beautiful job."
-Richard M. Suttle, Sr.
"Well, it's the try-hard folks like me
who were determined to stay here and try to bring the city back to life,
because it was truly dying."
-Richard M. Suttle, Sr.
"...our neighborhood's coming back." -Richard M. Suttle,
New Housing Developments in Emerson
Click here to read the transcribed interview with Mr. Suttle, Sr.