Coast ‘sister cities’ tap into twin power

Twins draw twice the attention to sister cities

Twin sisters who have led parallel lives now have similar jobs in neighboring cities.
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Twin sisters who have led parallel lives now have similar jobs in neighboring cities.

Those attending the Peter Anderson Festival in Ocean Springs may have seen double and not even known it.

Cynthia Dobbs Sutton is executive director of the Ocean Springs County Chamber – Main Street – Tourism Bureau. Her twin sister, Cecilia Dobbs Walton, is public affairs specialist for the city of Biloxi and crossed the bridge to help out at the festival. When people asked for information or directions, they didn’t realize it was sometimes Cecilia and not Cynthia who answered.

The twins part their long blonde hair on opposite sides, but even their parents and husbands can’t tell them apart on the phone.

The sisters are somewhat competitive in a “My city’s better than yours” way, but mostly cooperative in their support for the cities across the bay.

“We always say we have both sides of the bridge covered,” Cynthia said.

They read each other’s press releases and share ideas and experiences. Now both are promoting holiday events for their cities.

“My sister and I have always done everything the same. All of our lives,” Cecilia said.

They embraced being twins and never minded being the same “because we trusted each other completely,” Cecilia said.

“Completely,” Cynthia agrees

They finish each other’s sentences. They share clothes and dress alike even when they don’t plan it.

“You know what? I was going to wear a red shirt today,” Cecilia said when she saw how her sister was dressed.

Both wore black suits, but different color shirts.

My sister and I have always done everything the same. All of our lives

Cecilia Dobbs Walton

They feel each other’s pain.

“She got into a car accident and that day my neck was hurting,” Cecillia said.

“My neck did not hurt at all,” replied Cynthia.

Cecilia fell off a bicycle and Cynthia’s knee hurt.

Cynthia had trauma to her tooth and had to get a root canal. For no reason her dentist could find, Cecilia started having trouble with the same tooth and also needed a root canal.

Their lives have been a near mirror image. They attended Gulf Coast Community College and worked together on the yearbook staff, newspaper and student council. They went on together to William Carey College in Hattiesburg to get a degree in communications.

“We always wanted to be reporters,” Cynthia said.

But after getting their bachelor’s degrees, “we didn’t get a job in our field,” she said.

They did freelance reporting, interviewed at Biloxi and both were offered jobs.

Cecilia was assigned to the Biloxi Natatorium and thought, “I’m working at a swimming pool and I didn’t even know how to swim.”

Now she competes in triathlons, and in 16 years with the city has worked her way up to the public relations department. She also has a couple of books with her name on them, authored in South Mississippi while freelancing with Landmark Books in California.

Cynthia chose instead to go to work with Ocean Springs attorney Alwyn Luckey. There she used her communications skills and started the company newsletter and also became a paralegal.

Cecilia began working on her master’s degree in communications at the University of Southern Mississippi and Cynthia followed. She moved to attorney Al Hopkins’ office in Gulfport while finishing her degree and did her internship with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which eventually led her to her job promoting Ocean Springs.

Where their lives deviated was in choosing husbands.

Cynthia’s husband, Shawn Sutton, is an aerospace engineer and a computer guy, she said. He’s also festival events coordinator for the Ocean Springs Chamber and took off from his job at an aviation company in Mobile to help with the Peter Anderson Festival. They were married in a big church wedding and she wore a ballgown.

“I turned my whole wedding into a winter wonderland theme,” she said.

Eight months later to the day, Cecilia married Danny Walton at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, where the resort staff took care of all the details and she wore a slender dress that was easier to pack in her suitcase.

Walton is the head lifeguard at the Biloxi Natatorium “and Mr. Ironman,” her sister said. He competed in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii.

Growing up, the sisters were virtually the same except for their first names. When they updated their driver’s licenses after their weddings, the sisters phoned each other to compare how they were going to write their new names. Both decided to use their maiden name and married name — with no hyphen.

The daughters of Donnie and Althia Dobbs said they are big on family.

“My dad’s a twin and we have twins and triplets on both sides of the family,” Cecilia said.

Both sisters say they don’t plan on having children.

They do plan on continuing to work together, knowing they share the same visitors who cross the bridge for casinos, shopping and restaurants.

“I like working with you,” Cynthia tells her sister.

“I do, too,” Cecilia agrees.