Jean Bussell Sugg was born on December 18, 1938, in West Helena, Phillips County, Arkansas.
She attended Memphis State University and transferred to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where she earned a B.A. in business. She married B. Alan Sugg, her high school sweetheart, and then moved with him to a US Army base where she taught in the Army Education Center in Germany.
Sugg worked as a cotton buyer in Corpus Christi, Texas. When she moved back to Arkansas, she was the president of the Junior League Sustainers Board and served on the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Board. She was instrumental in planning and hosting many fund-raisers and events for the University of Arkansas System.