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Angels In Our Midst

Angels In Our Midst

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Angels in our Midst (Terry Sutherland)

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 01:43 PM CDT
May is National Older Americans Month and Military Appreciation Month.

Tonight, we introduce you to a retired Naval officer who is an inspiration for living life to the fullest.

Terry Sutherland is a very active resident at Azalea Trace Retirement-life Community.   He's what you might call a lifelong learner.  Let's start in 1948.

"I got a fleet appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy where I got a degree in, what is the equivalent today would be something like marine engineering."    

Then it was U. S. Naval post grad for a Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering.  Then night classes at George Washington University led to a Master's in Manpower Management.  

"And after I retired, VA helped me earn a degree in real estate."

And he picked up a pilot's license somewhere along the way.  The schooling and a 25 year Navy career followed by a stint in the Merchant Marines didn't leave him much time for his childhood passion.

"My grandfather was a Western and cowboy artist in Colorado. Grandpa would take me out in his shop and show me how to paint; that's what he did.  From then on, I was interested in painting and I've been painting ever since off and on."

You can just imagine what he did when he got this suggestion.

"My wife asked me to go up here to UWF. And I thought she sort of wanted to get me out of the house mostly.  And so, I went up there though."

Yes, Mr. Sutherland headed back to school; to the University of West Florida.  He's an inspiration to his senior peers.

"Excursions into other challenges are what keep your mind young.  And as far as your body, well, it tends to give out as time goes by, but, that is the least of your worries."

"He is motivated and he inspires so many others. To teach others, to live life," said Shirley Lawing.

He also took on a role with his younger classmates.

"I play the rent-a-grandpa type for over. Kids will come up to me and tell me stories they wouldn't tell other people," said Terry.

"The stories that he has shared with me about students that have confided in him and needed someone to talk to; and the surrogate grandfather that he has become to many of those students, has just touched my heart," said Shirley.

One bit of grandfatherly advice:

"There's no substitute for those two four letter words; hard work," Terry said.

He's got a lot to show for these last three years and 75 credit hours of hard work.  

"If you ask me what I'm going to do with these some 100 paintings I've produced over the last three years, I'll be doggone if I know," Terry said.

"Cum Laude Terry Sutherland."

He'll hang his fifth degree, a Master of Studio Art, with the others.  After watching our photographer Markus Morris at work, he says he thinks he'll take a photography course next.  And we don't doubt that he will.

Angels in Our Midst is brought to you by Sacred Heart Children's Hospital.Angels in our Midst (Terry Sutherland)

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