Tom Sutherland celebration of life ceremony to occur Saturday

Erin Douglas

A celebration of life for Tom Sutherland will occur from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday in the Lory Student Center Grand Ballroom. The ceremony is open to the public.

The Colorado State University emeritus professor and former Beirut hostage passed away July 22 at 85 years old.


Sutherland became a professor of animal sciences at CSU in 1957 and taught for 26 years. He left Fort Collins to become the Dean of Agriculture at the American University of Beirut in 1983. Two years later, Sutherland was captured by Hezbollah terrorists in Beirut, Lebanon, where he was held captive for 6 years along with 53 other civilians.

The captors later admitted that Sutherland was mistaken for the president of the university, rather than the dean of agriculture, and was captured by accident.

After 2,353 days in captivity, Sutherland returned to Fort Collins on December 1, 1991.

Sutherland and his wife, Jean, established the Sutherland Family Foundation upon receiving $37.5 million from a lawsuit against Iran for its involvement in the hostage situation. The foundation supports Fort Collins nonprofits.

The celebration of life will recognize Sutherland’s Scottish roots with traditional Scottish music.

Free parking for the celebration of life will be available in the Lory Student Center lot and the Morgan Library lot.

To share condolences, visit Sutherland’s obituary page.

Collegian News Editor Erin Douglas can be reached at or on Twitter @erinmdouglas23.