Thomas Sutherland, ex-hostage and noted CSU professor dies at 85

Posted at 5:16 PM, Jul 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-23 21:51:13-04

Thomas Sutherland, a former Colorado State University professor who spent six years as a hostage in Beirut in the 1980s, died Friday. He was 85.

At the time, Sutherland had left Colorado to become the Dean of Agriculture at the American University in Beirut. He was kidnapped on June 9, 1985 by Shiite Hezbollah terrorists taking a stand against U.S. military forces involved in the Lebanese civil war, according to a Denver Post story by reporter John Moore. He was released Nov. 18, 1991.

Moore, who now works for the Denver Center for Performing Arts, kept in touch with Sutherland, who he called unassuming and a powerful orator. Sutherland took up acting in his 70s and donated millions to area arts organizations.

“I think it had something to do with being a hostage. Being released gave him a longer lease on life,” Moore said. “I would have loved to sit in a lecture and hear him talk about agriculture. He was poetic. I would equate him with a Scottish Shakespeare. Everything he said was lyrical. It rolled off his tongue. You couldn’t help but enjoy every story.”

Friends and family are planning a public celebration of Sutherland’s life for sometime in mid-August. Details are pending.

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