Remembering World War II veteran Suttie Economy

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 8:29 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Suttie Economy made an impression wherever he went, whether he was tooling around Roanoke in his red, white and blue Yugo, urging city officials to maintain the Roanoke War Memorial or handing a pack of Juicy Fruit gum to people he met along the way.

“My understanding is that Dad received Juicy Fruit in his C-rations when he was on the USS English out in the South Pacific,” Della Economy-Bryant explained. “And he said if he ever made it home he would give something to someone every day.”

Economy was proud of his military service during World War II, but he was passionate about honoring those who never made it home.

We spoke with him in 2008 when, after years of lobbying, the marble flower vases he had requested were finally added to the War Memorial.

“I was so proud, still proud,” he told us then. “I don’t care who knows I cried, something to be proud of. Never forget those veterans.”

“It wasn’t about him,” Economy-Bryant told us. “If you think about it, it wasn’t like ‘I was a great veteran in World War II.’ It was never ‘I.’ It was all these men. All of these women who served. These veterans who served and gave their lives.”

Economy made national headlines last year with an unusual request. He wanted his casket to resemble a pack of Juicy Fruit gum. But that didn’t happen.

Economy died Friday at the age of 95. His funeral service was held Tuesday.

With his blessing, the family included a photo of USS English. And a yellow throw with the juicy fruit logo was draped over the casket.

Economy-Bryant said she was moved by the respect Roanoke showed during her father’s trip to Evergreen Cemetery.

Traffic stopped. A police officer stood at attention. Members of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association led the procession and served as pallbearers.

It was a send-off, Economy-Bryant was confident, her father would have appreciated.

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