Robert L. Sutherland ’56 died on June 26, 2015, in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
(The following was published in The Boston Globe on June 28, 2015:)
Robert L. Sutherland, a resident of Lincoln, Massachusetts for nearly fifty years, died peacefully surrounded by his family on Friday June 26. He was chief financial officer, and then senior vice president finance, for Teknor Apex Corporation from 1978 to 2000, where he was instrumental in putting in place upgraded financial management and accounting systems. Subsequently, Teknor expanded its production of vinyl compounds for medical and commercial purposes, becoming an industrial leader in making PVC coverings for medical devices and electrical insulation. From 1972 to 1978 he was assistant controller for Pneumo Corporation. He began his accounting career with Price Waterhouse and Co. in 1959 and practiced there until 1972. Born in Washington, D.C., in 1935, Mr. Sutherland grew up in Arlington, Virginia, until 1945 when his family moved to Millburn, New Jersey, where they lived during his high school years. He graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in 1956, and later received a master of science degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School. After MIT, he home studied to prepare for the CPA exam while on leave from Price Waterhouse to fulfill his military obligation; he studied while stationed at Fort Devens from 1961 to 1962. Years later, when asked how he managed to pass the exam on his first try with only home study and limited academic preparation, he remarked “the laws were different then,” never once acknowledging the unlikelihood of passing such a difficult test with limited preparation. Throughout his life Mr. Sutherland enjoyed active sports, particularly skiing and bicycling. After retiring at age sixty-five, he joined a group of cycling enthusiasts and biked the 425 mile Erie Canal in six days. For decades he bicycled throughout parts of New England to enjoy an outdoor sport that let him relax him from daily work day rigors. Several years ago he biked the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal from Alleghany Gap, Maryland to Washington, D.C., a distance of 150 miles, in five days. Family folklore includes the story of the time he organized the neighborhood kids to build a 24′ by 10′ water ski jump as a way to relax on a summer weekend when his father was out of town; he charged 1,000 pounds of lumber to his father’s credit card after being told “No, don’t build the jump.” It took much explaining and the jump’s successful completion before the story became a memorable part of the family’s saga; Dad became the jump’s biggest enthusiast. During his retirement years, Mr. Sutherland served on Lincoln’s Council on Aging in many capacities including Chair during his twelve years on the board. He was given the organization’s Man of the Year Award in 2013 for accomplishments the COA achieved during his years of service. He organized the Men’s Monthly Coffee at the Lincoln COA and served on the Minuteman Senior Services Board. His retirement years also included volunteering weekly at the Museum of Science Discovery Center and working for many tax seasons as a volunteer in the AARP Program, providing assistance to those needing help deciphering federal tax jargon. Mr. Sutherland is survived by his wife Marion Meenan, brother Don Sutherland, sister Dot Sutherland, his daughter Claire Sutherland, son Alan Sutherland (and wife Lorraine Chapman), grandson Colin Sutherland, granddaughter Heidi Hartman, and by his wife’s children and grandchildren Susan (and husband Dev Barron), Loraine (and husband Steve Cook), Thomas Barron and Annie Barron, Charlie Cook, Peter Cook, and Ben Cook, by his beloved nieces and nephews, and by his former wife Beth Ries. Throughout his life he was a loving and caring husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend.