Earl Hutto dies at the age of 94

Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 10:01 AM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) - The family of Earl Hutto sent this press release to WJHG Tuesday.

Pensacola, Fla. — Former Congressman Earl Hutto died yesterday at age 94. Hutto served Florida’s First District in the U.S. House of Representatives for eight terms, from 1979 to 1995. Previously, he represented District 8 in the Florida House of Representatives from 1972 to 1978 and was a longtime radio and television sportscaster.

Hutto’s obituary is below:

Earl D. Hutto died peacefully at home surrounded by his family on Monday, December 14, 2020.

Earl was born on May 12, 1926, to Lemmie and Ellie Mathis Hutto in Midland City, Alabama. The family made frequent moves around rural Southeast Alabama before settling in Ewell, near Ozark, when he was a teenager. Though they were poor by the world’s standards, Earl remembered growing up rich in love along with his younger sister and brother, Merle and Rex.

He went to work at an early age picking cotton and selling newspapers to servicemen at nearby Fort Rucker. Earl finished high school by correspondence after being drafted when he turned 18 in 1944. He spent 18 months in the U.S. Navy, serving as a sight setter aboard the U.S.S. Bremerton.

The Navy provided Earl the opportunity to attend college on the GI Bill, which he did at Troy State Teachers College, now Troy University. In 1949, he became the first in his family to earn a college degree, and he went to work teaching business courses at Cottonwood High School near Dothan, while also serving as a part-time radio announcer.

His career as a TV sportscaster followed with stints at WEAR in Pensacola, WSFA in Montgomery, and WJHG in Panama City. While in Montgomery, Earl hosted the Auburn Football Review with Coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan and created, produced, and marketed a syndicated television show, Southeastern Football. But Earl considered his time in Panama City the most significant, as that’s where he met Nancy, his beloved wife of 53 years, and where their daughters, Lori and Amy, were born.

In 1972, he won an open seat in the Florida House of Representatives, where he represented District 8 for three terms before his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978. He was re-elected seven times, once without opposition.

During his years in Tallahassee and Washington, Earl’s integrity, strong work ethic, and ability to forge relationships on both sides of the aisle allowed him to faithfully protect and advance the interests of Northwest Florida as well as strengthen U.S. national security. Nancy was always a trusted, equal partner in every aspect of Earl’s career.

In Congress, Earl earned seats on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee and the Armed Services Committee, so crucial to Florida’s First District. He went on to chair the Coast Guard and Navigations Subcommittee as well as the Panel on Special Operations Forces. In 1989, he became Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee, where he oversaw a $90 billion annual budget.

In addition to his work on national security issues, Earl was very proud of the assistance his office provided to help hundreds of constituents cut through government red tape. He credits the excellent staff who worked so diligently in his congressional offices throughout his time in office.

In retirement, Earl and Nancy enjoyed a full life of involvement in First Baptist Church of Pensacola and numerous community activities. They also logged many hours on I-10 between Pensacola and Tallahassee, where both their daughters lived for many years.

Throughout his long and wonderful life, Earl was always characterized by humility, cheerfulness, and abiding faith. He never failed to thank God both publicly and privately as the source of the many blessings in his life, most importantly the gift of eternal life with Christ that he is now fully experiencing.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Lemmie and Ellie Hutto; his sister Merle Hutto Blacksher; and brother Rex Hutto. He is survived by his wife Nancy; daughters Lori Hutto and Amy Hutto Stubblefield and her husband Marty; granddaughters Abbie and Sarah Grace Stubblefield; and granddaughter Ellie Stubblefield Escobar, her husband George, and a great-grandchild expected in May of 2021.

Final arrangements are pending.

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