Ian Sutherland worked hard and played hard all his life. His death last week in a skydiving accident stunned colleagues with whom he worked and friends with whom he played. His death also left a legacy that is indeed a tribute to a full life well-lived.
Sutherland had been an assistant prosecuting attorney in Cape Girardeau County since 1988. But his legal career was preceded by an illustrious military career that began after high school. After a stint as a Green Beret in the U.S. Army, he obtained bachelor's (biology and chemistry) and master's (zoology and physiology) degrees. Then he returned to the military where he served in the Old Guard, the Army's ceremonial unit, before returning to the Special Forces and three tours of duty in Vietnam.
Once again, he returned to college and received a degree in public administration from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He also authored a book on the history of the Special Forces and was scheduled to have another military book published this summer.
Those who knew Sutherland mourn not just the loss of an intelligent and capable man who set high personal goals, but also a close friend who was described again and again as having the highest principles and character.
Southerland's attributes will serve as a model for many individuals for a long time to come.