“In the game of life as in any game of ball, play it clean, play it fair or not at all.”
It was that catch-phrase that former broadcaster Earl Hutto used in signing off of his sports broadcasts throughout his career in radio and television. But, for the former eight-term U.S. Congressman it was more than a catch-phrase – it was a way of life.
A TROY alumnus, Hutto passed away at his home on Monday, Dec. 14, surrounded by family. He was 94.
The Midland City, Alabama native served in the Navy before becoming the first member of his family to earn a college degree from then-Troy State Teachers College in 1949. Following his graduation, he went on to teach business courses at Cottonwood High School while also serving as a part-time radio announcer.
A talented broadcaster, Hutto’s career got it starts during his college years in both the TROY press box and the studios of Troy radio station WTBF. Hutto went on to become sports director for WEAR-TV in Pensacola, Florida before moving to WSFA in Montgomery from 1961 to 1963 and WJHG in Panama City, Florida from 1973 to 1079. Hutto also owned Pensacola’s first FM radio station, WPEX.
In 1972, Hutto won a seat in the Florida House of Representatives and, in 1979, was elected to his first of eight terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing northwest Florida. In Congress, Hutto earned seats on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee and the Armed Services Committee and later chaired the Coast Guard and Navigations Subcommittee, as well as the Panel on Special Operations Forces. In 1989, he became Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee, overseeing a $90 billion annual budget.
In 1980, Troy University honored the Congressman with its Alumni of the Year Award and, later in 2005, he received the University’s highest alumni honor, the Distinguished Leadership Award. Hutto was also lifetime member of the Troy University Alumni Association.
“Troy University is saddened to learn of the death of Congressman Earl Hutto. He was a part of what Tom Brokaw famously termed ‘The Greatest Generation’ – a generation that not only saved this great nation but also built it into what has been characterized as the greatest nation in the history of the world,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. “He was a dedicated public servant and a model TROY alumnus, whose legacy of support will continue to impact TROY students for years to come. Congressman Hutto will be greatly missed, and his family is in our thoughts and prayers.”
In 2018, Hutto and his wife Nancy donated $100,000 to TROY, paving the way for the renovation of TROY TrojanVision studio, located in Wallace Hall on the Troy Campus. The new Earl Hutto Studio was unveiled during a ceremony in November 2018, with University officials and the Hutto family participating.
“Congressman Hutto’s service to and generous support of Troy University went to the very heart of our mission of serving students,” said Maj. Gen. Walter Givhan, (USAF, ret.), Senior Vice Chancellor for Advancement and Economic Development. “His family’s generous gift helped provide a state-of-the-art studio where our broadcast journalism students gain valuable hands-on, practical experience as a part of their TROY degree. He was a true Trojan, through and through.”
Kyle Bozeman, TROY’s TV Manager, said the Hutto family’s generosity made possible the technological upgrades that helps prepare TROY students for successful careers in the field of broadcasting.
“When I met Earl and Nancy Hutto, I was really impressed and touched by their sincerity and thoughtfulness in thinking of us,” Bozeman said. “We’re very proud of our technologically advanced and up to date facilities, but we’re even more proud to be able to offer these facilities to our students without depending on tuition dollars or state allocations to pay for them. It’s the generous financial support of people like the Hutto family that makes that possible.”
Hutto was preceded in death by his parents, Lemmie and Ellie Hutto; 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.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19 at First Baptist Church, 500 N. Palafox Street in Pensacola. The family will receive friends afterward at the church.