Dennis Spragg reports that the University of Colorado Boulder American Music Research Center Glenn Miller Archive announced the passing of William “Bill” Suitts. The sad but not unexpected news that Bill had passed away just past midnight was received Friday morning, October 5th. Bill Suitts, you may remember, purchased Fred Shaw’s famous RCAF navigator’s log at auction from Sotheby’s.
Following is a formal statement from the Curator of the Glenn Miller Archive, Dr. C. F. Alan Cass:
The Glenn Miller Archive (GMA) and the University of Colorado Boulder have lost a cherished colleague and supporter with the passing of William J.”Bill” Suitts on October 5, 2012. Bill was drawn into the GMA family when he and I unknowingly traveled a sumultaneous and serendipitous path together. Reliving memories of that occasion brings a smile to my face even in the sadness of this occasion.
In the spring of 1999, news that the auction of an interesting artifact possibly related to the disappearance of Major Alton Glenn Miller would take place at Sotheby’s in England. Steve Miller, the late son of Glenn and Helen Miller, and I conferred regarding the potential historic value of the Fred Shaw Log Book which perported to add a new twist to the mystery of what happened to the plane that carried Steve’s father on 15 December, 1944. We agreed that I, serving as a surrogate for the Miller family, would attempt to bid on the log book.
On the day of the auction, April 13, 1999, I arranged for an international connection to Sotheby’s and was instructed on how to participate in the biding process. Steve and I had agreed previously what our highest bid would be. Within minutes, the profer exceeded what we were willing to offer and I dejectedly hung up. A few hours later, I received an excited call from my wife Sue. “Have your heard, she said?” T
he Denver TV stations were announcing the Fred Shaw Log Book had been purchased by a man living in Boulder, Colorado! My first thought was…, What have I done? A quick inspection of the situation revealed that the new owner of the Fred Shaw Log Book was Bill Suitts who, on a sentimental whim, had echoed my precise actions that morning with the exception that his persistence took the prize.
Bill and his wife Beth became both close personal friends and generous contributors to and supporters of the University of Colorado and the Glenn Miller Archive. I quickly learned that when Bill set a goal for himself, he met that goal with warmth, good humor and a calm, gentlemanly nature that secreted the fiery furnace within.
To Beth and the entire extended Suitts family, Dennis Spragg says that “Sue and I are enternally grateful for your and Bill’s friendship and wish you peace during this difficult time.”