William "Rusty" Sudderth

Celebrating William "Rusty" Sudderth

Kae Mattingly
May 2021


Today we celebrate a member of this church that proudly proclaims to have been a member of "Montezuma's Monsters"!  He also reveals his first experience with snuff.  This person was a member of his elementary school's Square Dancing Team.  He is a fan of UNC.  Today we celebrate William Hugh Sudderth, Jr., AKA "Rusty".


Rusty & Kay  
Rusty's Patent  
Rusty Mixing the  
Famous Eggs  

Rusty was born on August 4, 1944, in Banner Elk, North Carolina to Myra and Billy Hugh Sudderth.  He was an only child.  When Rusty was born, his father was fighting in France during World War II.  His mother mailed a picture of his new son to him.  His father's reply was, "He looks like an old rusty truck."  Needless to say, it became his nickname.  When Rusty was two months old, his father was killed when he was disarming a land mine.  He was buried in France.  Later his mother had him brought back to the states to be buried, so Rusty would have a connection to his father.  Rusty's mom, Myra, was an accountant for Mountain Electric Cooperation in Newland, NC.  Not only was she a mother to Rusty, but also the other kids around that were about Rusty's age.  Rusty had a large extended family, having seven aunts and uncles and 20-25 cousins.

Rusty and some of the cousins formed a group, calling themselves "Montezuma Monsters."  These "Monster" cousins were all very close in age.  They got into more trouble than you could shake a stick at, but never got arrested.  One day they were walking down a dirt road and decided to climb saplings and ride them down.  Rusty explained how they would climb a sapling, crawl out on the limb, and enjoy the ride back down to the ground. On one particular day, one of the cousins climbed a sapling that was a little too tall.  He was stuck out on the limb, until he fell and broke his ankle, and they had to carry him home.  On another occasion, the "Monsters" were in a little store.  The same cousin that fell from the tree suggested they get some snuff and try it out.  Rusty declined.  They held him down and pinched his nose until he had to breathe.  They poured the snuff down his throat.  He started coughing and choking.  He said, "I thought I was going to die!"

At night these boys would go out and play Kick the Can.  One night they had some cherry bombs.  They stood at the side of the road hiding.  When a car approached, they would throw those cherry bombs on the road.  The driver would stop, look around and start chasing them.  They never got caught.  Being a kid then was very different than being a kid today.  They lived in the mountains, and didn't have a lot of money; so they had to make our own fun.

Rusty attended Newland Elementary School.  His favorite subjects were history and geography, but he hated English.  Rusty also was a member of the school Square Dance Team, which was for grades 4-6.  His future wife, Kay was also on the Square Dance Team, but she had a different partner.  His 4th grade teacher got him interested in joining.  Once they went to Asheville for a competition, where they competed with other schools in the county.  Newland Elementary won a couple years.  They took the trophy back to school to be put on display.

Rusty's favorite teacher in high school was his history teacher, and their neighbor, William Alexander.  Basketball was the only sport offered and Rusty was the manager of the team.  Rusty said, "If I could have been taller than 5 foot 2 inches, I would have been on the court playing."  Every year the seniors had a class trip.  Rusty's class trip was to Fairfax, Virginia.  While there, they all went to a mall, and being from the mountains, this was a new experience for them.  Two classmates got picked up for shoplifting.  This ended senior class trips for the rest of the senior classes.  It just so happened that Kay, his future wife, was so mad at Rusty because his class stopped future trips.  She graduated the following year.

There were 32 in Rusty’s graduating class.  On the day of graduation, in 1962, the class’ Senior Sponsor, while playing Pomp and Circumstance, one of Rusty's cousins stole the hubcaps off the Senior Sponsor's car and hid them on the floorboard of the back seat.  She was very upset.

After graduating from high school, Rusty enrolled as a freshman at East Carolina.  The government paid for all his college expenses, due to his father's death in the line of duty.  He also had to register for the draft, but he didn't have to serve due to being the only surviving son in the family.  At the end of his freshman year, Rusty was sent home —more partying than studying.

Rusty had an uncle that lived in Washington D.C., that worked in construction.  He worked there for one and a half years, and decided he didn't want to work that hard. 

After returning home Rusty enrolled at Western Carolina.  He was a member of the Radio Club.  He had a radio program on the Campus Radio Station.  He played the top twenty hits of the day, read the news and advertisements, and handled calls and requests.  He held this position for two years.

One night he went to a basketball game, at his old high school, he saw Kay.  They started talking, and soon they started dating.  On August 4, 1968 they were married.  The year 1968 was quite an eventful year for both of them.  Rusty graduated from Western Carolina with a Bachelor's Degree in Management with a concentration in Engineering.  Kay graduated Summa Cum Laude from Appalachian State University with a Master's Degree in Business Education.

They moved to Mountain City, Tennessee, where Rusty found a job at the Burlington Yarn Company.  This is where Rusty learned all about yarn.  His job title was Spinning Room Supervisor.  He was overseeing yarn going into a knitting machine to make fabric.  Later Rusty & Kay moved into Kay's mother's house in Montezuma, NC.  Kay’s mother had died two years before Rusty and Kay were married.  Rusty commuted every day from Montezuma, NC to Mountain City, TN for his job.  On September 24, 1970, Chip was born.

Rusty took a job at Carleton Mills, in Salisbury, NC, as a second shift overseer, over spinning and winding yarn.  In 1972, Rusty went to work at Cone Mills for six months.  He then moved to TRW in Boone, and worked in a pare wound resistor plant.  Kay had just found out she was pregnant.  Rusty had just found out the business was closing.

In 1974, they moved back to Newland.  Rusty became a magistrate of Avery County. He had that position for two years.  On January 6, 1975, Chuck was born.  After leaving the Magistrate's position, he went to work for Bluebell in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.  He managed the Spruce Pine Sewing Plant.  It had 100+ employees.  It was at this time Rusty left the management job and went into the engineering part of the business.

In the late 70's Rusty received a Patent for an embroidery quick change hoop.  Eight to ten hoops could change at the same time.  In 1981, Rusty transferred to Greensboro as a Project Engineer.  He retired from Bluebell (now VF Corporation) in 2002, after twenty-six years of working.

One of Rusty's hobbies used to be coin collecting.  At one time he purchased a 50D uncirculated nickel for $20.00.  He kept it for ten years, and then sold it for $10.00.  His biggest hobby today is golf.  His lowest game, which he has achieved a couple of times is 75.  He also has worked on renovating older homes, mainly painting, for other people.  He is also a big fan of UNC.  Primary reason is because both of his sons graduated from there.  The other reason is because all his money went there!

Rusty and Kay joined First Presbyterian Church on September 19, 1982.  Rusty was ordained and installed as an Elder on January 2, 1983.  He has served on The Building and Grounds Committee, The Stewardship and Finance Committee, and has been actively involved in the Egg Committee, working in the kitchen as a Mixer.  He was also on the committee to sell the manse and property behind the church.  Currently they are looking at ideas on how to invest that money from the sales.

Rusty has never traveled off the North American Continent.  He has been to Mexico and Canada several times.



Marrying Kay and Getting a Patent



Go to work.  Don't expect others to give you everything.