Crissta Ames

Contributing Writer

William “Bill” Sutherland, a well-known citizen of Charlotte, passed away Sunday, Dec. 2 at the age of 83. Sutherland was a tremendous influence in the lives of students who were under his wing in the Charlotte High School band until his retirement in 1993, as well as during his time being a junior high director. 

Along with directing the Charlotte bands, Sutherland also taught music for 18 years at Linden High School and was the president of the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association. 

As the Charlotte community grieves over the loss of Sutherland, his good friend and longtime CHS colleague Gary Sullivan, reflects on the pair’s work in the following letter addressed to the MSBOA: 

“Family, friends, colleagues, the community of Charlotte, and the greater Michigan band community are saddened by the passing of William Sutherland. Bill was a music teacher and band conductor to thousands, adjudicator, piano accompanist and church organist, a mentor to numerous band directors, a stable voice of MSBOA’s leadership (including his role as president), clarinetist in the Lansing Concert Band, and a valued community member who provided service to countless organizations. To me Bill was a trusted friend and colleague. In the summer of 1983, he attracted me to the high school position in Charlotte, where for the first 10 of my 27 years as director, Bill and I worked as “kindred spirits” in the development of our program. Bill’s students reached the high school beyond their years in preparation and with a sincere love for music. His ensembles were superlative, reaching a level only possible with their master teacher on the podium. He always supported the total program, participating in band camps, national tours, performances on and off campus, and he accompanied countless students at solo and ensemble, extending this valuable service for many years beyond his retirement in 1993. Bill encouraged me to pursue the conductorship of the Lansing Concert Band, where he performed as clarinetist. To that organization, he was a valued member of the clarinet section and friend to the membership. The band dedicated a portion of their December 2 performance to Bill as the members had just learned of his passing. Those who knew Bill knew him uniquely. He had the ability to wrap his personality around people and provide support and encouragement. As we sometimes traveled together to judging assignments and MSBOA committee sessions, Bill was always willing to share his wisdom with me. His personal concern for people defined the character of Bill and drove his many involvements. A valued voice in our profession has passed, but his personal impacts and musical influences stand as an example of a professional and personal life well-lived.”

Funeral services for Mr. Sutherland will be held on Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 11 a.m. at the Lawrence Avenue United Methodist Church.