Stephen Merton Sutherland, 86, of Norman passed away Thursday, June 8, 2017. He was born July 27, 1930 to Stanley Sutherland and Mary Hughes in East Orange, New Jersey.
Dr. Sutherland was raised in a culturally diverse neighborhood in Hartford, NJ. After completing high school in Bloomington, Indiana, Dr. Sutherland earned a B.A. (1952) and an M.A. (1955) at the University of Indiana, followed by a Ph.D. (1962) in Geography at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Dr. Sutherland was a gifted educator and administrator. He served in the US Army during the Korean Conflict as a faculty member in the Quartermaster School in Fort Lee, Virginia. He taught courses in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Atomic Warfare. He came to The University of Oklahoma in 1958 as a professor in physical geography and climatology. While an Associate Professor, Dr. Sutherland was a recipient of the first Regents' Award for Superior Teaching.
In addition to his distinguished teaching career, Dr. Sutherland served in several administrative roles at The University of Oklahoma, including Assistant Dean of University College, Director of Residential Programs, and Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. He also received the Regents' Award for Professional and University Service.
Dr. Sutherland's proudest professional accomplishment was creating and developing the University's National Merit, National Achievement, and National Hispanic Scholars Programs. Dr. Sutherland worked with the state legislature and University community to establish and fund these programs to bring the nation's brightest students to the University on fully-funded scholarships. His legacy lives on in the University's current National Scholars Program, which enrolled more National Merit Scholars than any other university in the country this year. In addition to his advocacy on behalf of these students, Dr. Sutherland developed lifelong relationships with his Scholars, many of whom have said he was formative in their distinguished careers.
Following his retirement in 1992, Dr. Sutherland continued to teach and mentor as a Professor Emeritus with Advanced Programs, teaching courses in Human Relations and Cultural Diversity. In this role, he taught all over the world, with many students reporting that he was their best professor ever. In addition to his University service, Dr. Sutherland read to first graders for many years at Madison Elementary School in Norman. His role as "Dr. Steve" may have been his favorite position.
Dr. Sutherland had many passions, one of which was a lifelong commitment to social justice and cultural diversity. As an undergraduate, he risked his much-needed scholarship to join his friends as the first white member of the historically black fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, at Indiana University. He stayed in contact with his fraternity brothers until the time of his death. In addition, Dr. Sutherland strongly recruited and supported students of color throughout his tenure at OU.
Dr. Sutherland's other passions included travel with his wife of 44 years, Judy; together they explored six continents. He was a lifelong lover of bad books, good food, and good wine, and he was an early member of the local chapter of the International Wine and Food Society. He was an avid nature photographer, passionate OU and Thunder fan, and regular participant in water aerobics at OU and, later, the Cleveland County YMCA.
Dr. Sutherland is preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Richard G. Sutherland, and the mother of his three sons, Joan Nagengast Sutherland. He is survived by his wife, Julia "Judy" Biddy Sutherland, four children and their spouses, and seven grandchildren.
Survivors include his sons Mark (with partner Jill Farnsworth Bibo) of Los Altos, California, Scott (wife Leslie) of Edmond, Oklahoma, Matt (wife Karla) of Edmond, Oklahoma, and daughter Krista Jana (husband Tim) of Charlottesville, Virginia. Grandchildren are Amanda, Alex, Cameron, and Madison Sutherland, Alexis Akard, and Gabriel and Katherine Jana. Dr. Sutherland is also survived by his niece, Kim Storbeck, of Atlanta.
There will be a casual celebration of life at The Depot in Norman on Sunday, July 2 at 2:30 p.m. Friends are invited to share their memories and stories and enjoy light refreshments. Memorials may be made in memory of Dr. Sutherland to the Steve Sutherland Endowed Scholarship Fund through the University of Oklahoma Foundation. Online condolences may be shared at www.HavenbrookFuneralHome.com.
Published on June 12, 2017