Alumni Director unknowingly helped by fellow alumnus


Derryle Peace (left) reunites with the good Samaritan Noell Sutton (right), an alumnus of A&M-Commerce. Courtesy / Derryle Peace

Acacia Munoz, Feature Editor

After being genetically diagnosed with high cholesterol, Derryle Peace, director of alumni relations, was baffled since he had always been athletic. He changed his diet over 30 years ago has never been sick or had any health problems until this past summer.

Peace was driving back home while on the phone with his cousin. Normally, Peace does not stop get gas unless he is near to having an empty tank but decided to fill up his more than half empty tank of gas. Once he was at the fuel pump, Peace swiped his credit card and punched in the wrong zip code. He did not recognize the numbers he had punched in, and at that moment Peace realized he was having a stroke.

The side effects immediately took effect. The lightheadedness he was feeling made him believe he was in a dream. His throat started to feel unusual so he reached for his water bottle but could not move his right arm. It was paralyzed. Peace was still on the phone with his cousin and was able to tell him he had a medical issue. He instantly saw a man to his right and tried to get his attention but couldn’t talk. He waved to him, and the man came over.

“He asked me if he needed to call 911,” Peace said. “I said, ‘Yes but I need you stay here with me because I might pass out.’ This brave soul gets in the car with a complete stranger. He calls 911 and tries to tell them who I am but he doesn’t know. I give my license and the business card I never have with me.”

He no longer knew what was going on anymore. Peace sat in prayer asking God to let him see his wife one last time if this was the way he was going to die; he never noticed when the young man who helped him disappeared. The paramedics arrived in less than 10 minutes and transported him to the nearest hospital.

Pullquote Photo

There was a period of time when I was quite emotional when I would tell this story. I could never begin without crying. They weren’t tears of sadness but tears of joy.”

— Derryle Peace, Alumni Director

“By the time my wife arrives, she’s a wreck,” Peace said. “We Skyped a doctor and he told us about medication [for Peace]. My wife is shaking her head no because the side effects to the medication were so severe.”

Peace tried to write a note to his wife with his left hand but could not remember the alphabet. He could not write all the words he wanted to say to her. The doctor eventually convinced Peace’s wife about letting him take the medication and he was transferred to Baylor Hospital in Dallas to receive better help.

“I was there for five days, and the medication took effect while I was being transported,” Peace said. “Overnight I got better, and the next day I could talk. I was overwhelmed with love and support from friends, family, and the university. My wife and I kept trying to find out who the man who helped me was.”

Eight days later, Peace received a phone call from the man and was at last able to learn his name, Noell Sutton. Peace told him he was now officially a member of his family. Sutton is convinced that God sent him to save Peace that day.

After Peace was released from the hospital, he was ordered to attend rehab. Four weeks later, he finally had the chance to thank Sutton in person. At their gathering, he learned that Sutton has a degree in music performance at A&M-Commerce and lives in Richardson, Texas.

“This story is not really about me, I only play a role,” Peace said. “It’s about God’s grace and how we think there’s luck in coincidence, but these things just don’t happen. It was no coincidence that I got off the interstate to get gas when I didn’t need gas, I was no coincidence that Noell was suddenly there and was brave enough to get in the car with a stranger, and there is no coincidence that I am still here.”

Today, Peace and Sutton are very close friends. He continues to slowly recover and shows improvements.

“There was a period of time when I was quite emotional when I would tell this story,” Peace said. “I could never begin without crying. They weren’t tears of sadness but tears of joy.”