Honoring Tutu's Legacy

by Green & Gold News  |   

Ben Linford, Becky Linford Love and Brenna Linford raise their glasses in memory of their grandmother, Sue “Tutu” Linford, whose photo is in the background.
Ben Linford, Becky Linford Love and Brenna Linford raise their glasses in memory of their grandmother, Sue “Tutu” Linford, whose photo is in the background.

Suzanne “Sue” Linford held many diverse jobs before becoming CEO and owner of Linford of Alaska wholesale foods in 1986, a position she held for over 35 years. Her grandson Ben shared that she was a single mom with five kids when she took the helm, and her ex-husband had passed away. That would never be an easy position but it was especially challenging in the mid-'80s during a recession. Sue’s granddaughter Becky shared that cooking was “not something Sue felt super skilled at, and she spent a lot of her life not having very much in terms of resources and means. She was a very creative cook with whatever she had. She certainly did not come in as any kind of expert.”

Affectionately known as "Tutu" to her grandchildren, Sue demonstrated by example the importance of being generous with one’s time, talent and treasure. Becky recalls, “She really embodied being young at heart … she was fun and bubbly and light and sparkly and yet did some serious work and contributed a lot.” Her granddaughter Brenna agreed, saying, “Tutu was passionate about food and the arts. She was fancy and we loved it; she truly embraced the finer things in life but she was humble and worked incredibly hard for it. She appreciated good food, a good show, and lovely people. Her smile lit up any room, and even her laugh was musical!” 

Linford has provided wholesale food for Alaska since 1973, making a partnership with UAA’s Culinary Arts program a natural fit. Sue knew that chefs are in charge of restaurant ordering and asked, “where do they come from?” Ben shared that forming a relationship with UAA Culinary Arts allowed their business to support those who will eventually order for local restaurants. Linford of Alaska wants to continue helping feed the restaurants with chefs who feed the people of Anchorage with their ingredients.

UAA’s Celebrity Chef Invitational (CCI) and Sue’s commitment to fostering Alaska grown professionals in the food industry was incredibly important to her. “She delighted in CCI and loved to be a part of it every year from conception to the year she passed away,” said Brenna. After Sue’s death in 2017, former director of Culinary Arts, Tim Doebler, created a scholarship in Sue’s honor with gifts from CCI. 

The purpose of the Sue Linford Culinary Arts Scholarship is to provide financial assistance for tuition and other related educational expenses to students majoring in culinary arts at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Since its inception, the fund has already awarded more than $32,000 to 21 students, including culinary arts major Kevin Moffatt. He says, “Meeting Alaska’s food insecurity and economic needs through the hospitality industry is an extremely important endeavor for me. Wouldn’t it be great to know that your food comes from local sources with minimal impact on our environment?” Financial assistance from the Linford scholarship assisted Kevin in his pursuit of accomplishing his goal “to become an Alaskan regional chef who is socially connected to the community through food.”

Linford of Alaska is celebrating its 50th anniversary of providing wholesale food to the restaurant industry and wanted to honor Sue’s legacy in various ways around the community. Through Linford of Alaska, Sue’s family decided to endow the UAA scholarship so her generosity could impact countless students for generations to come. Brenna says their gift intends to “show the university that community and family and education all still burn brightly in Alaska, and families that have come out of UAA are proud to still be a part of it." 

Sue encouraged her children and grandchildren to pursue higher education. Brenna says, “Tutu taught us that aside from family, nothing is more important than a good education — in anything. She wanted us to always strive for more, whether it was a formal degree, certification, or learning a trade or vocation — she just wanted us to never stop learning. I am an UAA alumna as well as a part owner of Linford of Alaska and I love that my Linford name is represented in both camps.”

Establishing the endowment was “a way we could honor her and benefit the program for years to come. We are proud of her and her name and its connection to UAA,” said Brenna. She hopes it will give educational opportunities to students who otherwise wouldn't have them. Ben says Linford wanted to make the funds accessible to students who might not be traditionally considered for a scholarship. His sister Becky agreed, saying, “It’s important to provide funds in a really practical, accessible way for anyone who has this dream to have a little boost.” 

Brenna hopes students will visit Tutu Sue's chef jacket in Cuddy Hall and know how much she cared about the students and the program. Becky adds, “If the students who benefit from this could know one thing it would be this isn't coming from a stuffy, old rich lady. She would be right there with you prepping food, cracking jokes and having a good time. I think they'd really enjoy her, and she'd be really proud.” If you’re interested in contributing to the Sue Linford Culinary Arts Scholarship, please visit the University of Alaska Gift Designation page.


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