Sunday, October 19, 2014

Final Great Adventure...

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.

1 comment:

  1. To Colleen's family and/or friend who posted this:

    Thank you for bringing closure and completion to this wonderful blog--and may it never be deleted! I still go back and read and reflect on how she wrote, and what she wrote about. There was a time when I couldn't go to sleep at night without reading her daily happenings, simmered in the juices of her own spicy takes and opinions.

    Colleen was a student, friend, and teacher of mine. While we weren't 'every day' friends, I valued her contribution to art, science, the environment, and life in general. For me, she inspires me still to stop sitting around and to start doing--though I will never be as good at it as she was.

    From her humble house in Seymour, she touched so many people with her tart honesty and beautiful flirtations with the English language. Her passing is a damn shame, but one that awaits us all.

    I again thank you, whoever is responsible, for putting the finishing touches on this wonderful blog. It meant a lot to those of us she meant a lot to.

    Peace and healing at your continued loss,

    Timothy J. Meier
    Appleton, WI