At the age of 70, Colleen Erna Sutherland of Seymour, WI passed away on Saturday, October 4, 2014 after a nine month battle with cancer. Colleen was born on March 17, 1944 to the late Robert and Viola (Reetz) Doersch, the third of six children. One of her fondest childhood memories from life on the farm was when maple syrup season came and everything smelled of the sweet boiling sap.
After graduating from Seymour High School she began her professional career working for companies such as M&M Mars and Chicago Title and Trust where she handled the escrow for the Sears Tower. It was in Chicago where she met and married Roger Sutherland. During their travels they lived briefly in South Dakota where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in teaching at Vermillion University, later moving to Illinois where they had a Son (Christopher). After a few years they returned to Wisconsin where she taught high school English, French, and History at Pulaski High School and then finally settled back in Seymour. After their divorce, Colleen raised Chris while working as a singer/storyteller, performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and internationally as far away as New Zealand.
Colleen was a published author and contributor to the arts having acted and directed community plays as well as directing choir, singing, and playing piano in church and worked with developmentally disabled children at Syble Hopp School. Later in life she was elected to the Seymour city council and drove such community projects as establishing a farmer’s market and a tree lined walking trail between neighboring communities. Always an environmentalist, Colleen was a regular at the crane counts and sturgeon guard. She attended peaceful protests supporting teachers and the environment. An avid gardener, she was always happy to cut flowers from her front yard for children passing by on their way to school. In her retirement years, she took great joy in spending time with her Grandson Evan and camping with Gary, her partner of 30 years.
She was known to say that if something didn’t go wrong while traveling that there would be nothing to write about. All mishaps while traveling the world were great writing material. She had many amazing stories to share with everyone she met.
She is survived by her son, Christopher (Tisha) Sutherland, grandson Evan Sutherland, her partner for over thirty years Gary Harms, sisters Karen (Raymond) Nellis, Jeanne Doersch, Joan Downs, and brother Carl (Sue) Doersch. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, sister Diane Doersch, great-nephew Tony Loniello, and brother-in-law Dee Downs.
To honor her wishes no services or memorial will be held.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to support organizations such as Wisconsin Public Television, Fox Valley Brain Tumor Coalition, the Nature Conservancy, or The Sierra Club.
The Sutherland family would like to thank the doctors and nursing staff that provided such excellent care during her final months and Colleen’s friends and family who were a part of her extraordinary life.