Henry Albert “Hal” Suter passed away the morning of August 5, 2019 following a long struggle with colorectal cancer and complications of chemotherapy. He was born June 9, 1950 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the son of Dr. Hans Albert and Patricia Howe Suter. He spent the first four years of his life in Louisiana and Florida, moving with the family in 1954 to Corpus Christi, Texas. Hal attended Menger Elementary and Hamlin Junior High. He graduated from W.B. Ray High School in 1968, after first becoming an Eagle Scout in 1964. While working as a lifeguard for the City of Corpus Christi, Hal received a special commendation from the City for rescuing and saving the life of a distressed swimmer at McGee Beach. Hal attended Del Mar College, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Houston, from which he graduated in 1974 with a degree in Government. He lived in Houston through the 70’s and 80’s, working in market research and journalism, while being active in numerous political campaigns. Hal moved back to Corpus Christi in 1986. There, he embraced and enhanced the Suter family legacy of environmental activism and coastal protection.
Back in Corpus Christi, Hal wrote about sports and political issues for the Flour Bluff Sun and other local publications, had leading roles in several public access television shows, and was active in Toastmasters International. He became involved with the Sierra Club Coastal Bend Group, where his knowledge of Texas environmental regulations and his political savvy, and contacts at both local and state levels, had major impacts during the struggles for numerous environmental challenges, up until the present day. He served in various offices for the Coastal Bend Group, including Chair for the last three years. Hal was a particularly important and active member with the Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter, serving since 2001 on the statewide executive committee, becoming chair from January 2009 until January 2013, and as an active member of the political committee. In 2011, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club presented Hal with the Orrin Bonney Award, their highest award, given to the person who, over a number of years (at least six), has exemplified the spirit and commitment of the Sierra Club by contributing their time and effort in one or several positions of authority for the Chapter. With Sierra Club, Hal took a particular interest in deepening relations with labor unions, serving on various committees designed to bridge relationships with local and national worker’s rights organizations and serving on the statewide Apollo Alliance. He further served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Gulf Restoration Network (Healthy Gulf).
In addition to his leadership in the Sierra Club, Hal was an active member of the Texas Coastal Bend Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and he served as president of the Beach Access Coalition. In this latter role, in 2005-2006 he was instrumental in the passage of a City Charter amendment that prohibits any restrictions on vehicular access unless approved by a majority of qualified voters of the city who vote at an election held for that purpose. This amendment is crucial in guaranteeing the right of the public in deciding on beach access issues in the Coastal Bend.
Hal was also a founding member of the Clean Economy Coalition (CEC) formed in 2008 to fight against the proposed Las Brisas Energy Center (LBEC) project, a petroleum coke-burning plant that (according to its air permit application with the TCEQ) would have increased air pollution in Corpus Christ by 80%. As Chair of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, Hal was instrumental in securing funding for attorneys to challenge the air permit (through the Environmental Integrity Project) and the ultimately successful civil case (2012) brought against the LBEC in the 345th District Court in Austin.
Hal had a major impact on many issues that have affected the lives of people in South Texas, the Coastal Bend, and the State of Texas. He will be greatly missed. His legacy will be the cleaner environment that he worked so hard for, the lives that he touched through leadership and mentoring, and the many fond memories left with his friends and family. He is survived by his mother, Patricia Howe Suter of Corpus Christi, and his brother John Robert Suter of Houston.
The family will hold a Celebration of Life on Saturday, August 17 at 10 AM at the Seaside Funeral Home Chapel, 4537 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78412.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Hal’s honor to a charity of the donor’s choice. Hal was particularly fond of the Cattery Cat Shelter in Corpus Christi, and multiple environmental organizations, such as the Coastal Bend Regional Group and Lone Star Chapters of the Sierra Club, the Surfriders Foundation, and the Nature Conservancy.