NATALIE (NATASHA) SUTTON
Nov 30, 1929 – Nov 2, 2016
Resident of San Francisco
Natasha was born to refugee Russian parents, Michael and Daria Shipova, during tumultuous times in 1929 Shanghai, China. She attended Ecole Remi, located in the French Quarter, where she eventually mastered 5 languages, including Japanese, which was forced upon her during the Japanese occupation of World War II. During those horrific years, her life experiences forged within her a spirit of strength and the true meaning of what it takes to be a survivor … a lesson she carried this with her for the rest of her life.
During a visit to Tsingtao, she found brief peace and happiness in 1947 when she met and married George Kulesho. They lived simply, running a small cabaret restaurant by the beach, and in October of 1948, her only son, Stan, was born. However, within five months, due to the political unrest in the region, they were forced to flee from Tsingtao back to Shanghai where a month later, with the communist Chinese at the gates of the city, she boarded the last available boat for the only place that would take her and her family, the small island of Tubabao in the Philippines.
She arrived to the island of Tubabao to find life no easier than the China she left as during her nearly two and a half years on the island, the family was housed in army issued tents, surviving oppressive heat, venomous snakes, malaria and typhoons. There, along with a collection of some 6,000 other White Russian displaced refugees from China, she was allowed to live until safe passage to some welcoming country could be arranged through the UN.
Although life was difficult on the island, by then she was steeled in what it took to survive, and vowed to bring a better life to her son than she had. She, and husband George, parted ways in the Philippines when he decided to follow his own family which had received passage to Australia leaving behind Natasha who insisted on waiting for a possible passage to the United States. With her 2 year old son, after months of waiting, she was finally given a visa to the US in January of 1951. With that, she left the island behind and, sailing aboard a US Victory ship, arrived to a place she would call home for the rest of life.
Natasha and Stan sailed under the Golden Gate on January 29, 1951 and continued on to Denver where she had a job waiting with her sponsoring family as a nanny to their own three year old son. Eventually though, in 1953, through the help of some Russian friends working in San Francisco, she took a job at the Fairmont Hotel as a cocktail waitress. Even though a single mother, working long nights on her feet, she never questioned the quality of her life as now she was finally free of terror and strife.
She married Reuben (Rudy) Sutton in 1964 and took his three sons, David, Douglas, and Dirk as her own and started her life as an accounting manager at Inland Marine Industries, where she worked for the next 30 years. After retiring in 2005, she lived quietly and happily in her own home on 39th Avenue in San Francisco.
On November 2nd, Natasha quietly passed away after a long bout with cancer. Her life, though difficult at times, found no shortage of living life to its fullest. She travelled the world and met and made numerous lifelong friends. She loved to sing and dance, and was oft seen enjoying her life into the wee hours with her many friends.
Natasha leaves behind her beloved son, Stan, and his wife of 43 years, Caren, and her devoted grandchildren, Elizabeth, Jennifer, and Michael, as well as her many friends and coworkers. In celebration of her amazing life, there will be a memorial held on Saturday, November 26, 2016 at 11:00 AM at Wilson and Kratzer Chapel of San Ramon Valley, 825 Hartz Way, Danville, CA. In lieu of flowers, please send a contribution to the cancer charity of your choice.