John Andrew Hutton, World War II veteran, prisoner of war, and former president of First Kansas Life Insurance Company in Newton, died December 16, 2023 in Wichita at the age of 101 after a brief illness.
John was married to Mary Prudence "Prue" Bennett Hutton for 60 years. He is remembered as a father to four, grandfather to ten, and great-grandfather to one. John was born on November 26, 1922, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Hugh Wallace Hutton and Jean Ann Bell, an insurance businessman and schoolteacher. He grew up in Arkansas City, Kansas, where he graduated from high school in 1941.
Like many of the heroes of the Greatest Generation, John did not dwell on his military duty or decorated honors. World War II halted John's studies at Arkansas City Junior College after his first year. He enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps and trained as a navigator on the B-24 Liberator. Stationed in Spinazzola, Italy, John flew eighteen bombing missions as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 460th Bomb Group, 763rd Squadron, 15th Army Air Force. In 1944, on a mission to bomb the IG Farben chemical plant in Oswiecim, Poland, John and his crewmates were shot down by a German anti-aircraft gun. Parachuting to safety put John squarely in enemy territory, where he was encircled by farmers with pitchforks. John spent a total of 7 ½ months in Nazi prison camps ½first in Stalag Luft III (100 miles southeast of Berlin) and then in Stalag VII-A (in southern Bavaria) until the war ended in 1945.
John returned from WWII and enrolled at Kansas State University on the GI Bill. At K-State he met his future wife, Prue Bennett from Marysville, KS, in economics class. He was "smitten at first glance." They married in 1949. John studied at the University of Minnesota in the doctoral program in the Psychology Department. He took a position with the US Civil Service Commission in Washington, DC, in 1950. John moved back to Kansas in 1951 and settled in Newton to join his father-in-law, Judge Edgar C. Bennett, working at the predecessor to the First Kansas Life Insurance Company.
John was proud of the professional accomplishments of his three children and their children. His twin sons, Andrew and Mark Hutton, began practicing law in Wichita in 1979 and founded the Hutton & Hutton law firm. Andrew (Paula) has four children: Patrice (Vijay Phulwani), Baltimore, MD; Tara (Mike Keating) Washington, DC; Adeli, Washington, DC; and Colin, Austin, TX.
The late Mark B. Hutton (Susan) has four children: Tom Hutton, Miami, FL; and triplets William (Molly), New York, NY; Francesca, Nashville, TN; and Isabella, New York, NY.
The eldest daughter, Mary Prudence "Prudy" Hutton (Daniel Fitzpatrick), Fresno, CA, is a lawyer. She has two children: Prue, Washington, DC; and Daniel (Ashlee), San Francisco, CA. In 2023, John's long-coveted great-grandchild, Sloane Fitzpatrick, was born to Daniel and Ashlee.
When Prue Hutton was appointed to the Kansas Board of Regents in 1972, John enjoyed his new role supporting his wife's involvement in setting policy for Higher Education in Kansas. They both took particular pride in the expansion of the KU School of Medicine teaching programs to Wichita, improving access to health care to Wichita and the rural parts of the state.
John had a love for the Spanish language, taking classes at Wichita State and practicing on any captive audience. He traveled extensively in Latin America and finally made it to Cuba at age 93. He also adored the English language and delighted in correcting people's grammar.
John and Prue lived in Newton for 34 years and enjoyed an active retirement in Las Vegas, where they golfed, traveled the world, and enjoyed entertaining their Kansas friends. John moved to Wichita in 2010 after Prue's passing to be near his sons and grandchildren. Always physically active, John enjoyed daily workouts and comradery at his local gym.
A memorial service will be held on Jan. 3, 2024, at 10 A.M. at the Petersen Funeral Home, 215 North Main in Newton. A private graveside service will be held for the family at Greenwood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent to Bethel College to the Bethel College Tom Hutton Fund in memory of John's youngest son Tom, who died at age 9.