Barney and Janet Sutherland are two of the most loving and giving people I have ever met. They have both dedicated their lives to the students at Reeths-Puffer High School. Their love for all of us at R-P has been unconditional.
Sadly, both Barney and Janet lost their spouses at a very young age while they both were teachers at Reeths-Puffer. After some time had passed they started dating and eventually were married. Together these two pledged their love to each other and to the students of Reeths-Puffer.
They are both retired from teaching now but are still involved with many activities at the school. They try to attend every graduation party, wedding and class reunion that they are invited to. During my 35th class reunion they made a special effort to stop after they attended a wedding.
Barney turned 80 this year and his family hosted a birthday party in his honor at the high school. Students young and old attended because they wanted to say thank you to a man so dedicated to us. Barney may be 80 but he still remembers most of his students names and the year they graduated, which amazes me.
While at Barney’s 80th birthday party we heard many wonderful stories. Our friend Margo Burdick Brown, a 1973 graduate, traveled over three hours to attend Barney’s party and so did many others.
Another friend Kay Somerville Bradley, a 1976 graduate, told us a beautiful Barney story. Many years after Kay graduated from high school and was newly divorced, she was wondering how she was going to support herself and her kids. She went to Reeths-Puffer to find Barney because she needed some guidance. Barney happened to be on his break in the teachers lounge. When Kay saw Barney, she immediately burst into tears. He calmed her down and talked with her and helped her formulate a plan for her future. He hired her on the spot to clean his house and found some friends to hire Kay, too. Kay is still very grateful for his love and guidance.
Janet was my dedicated cheerleading coach and made sure we went to cheerleading camp every summer. What I didn’t appreciate back in the early 70s was Janet was a young widow raising kids on her own and was probably in mourning from the death of her husband but she kept living and focused her efforts on helping others.
Barney and Janet’s ministry didn’t stop when they left school because they lovingly welcomed my friend and classmate Darrell White into their home to live with them. They probably welcomed others too.
I feel like Barney and Janet mimic the life Mother Teresa lead but instead of ministering to the poor they ministered to the lives of so many of us at Reeths-Puffer.
Barney and Janet,
We love you and we will never forget the gifts you have given us.
Rosemary and Mark