Local philanthropist dies

January 05, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Norma Lee Sutherland, a lifelong resident of Martinsburg, W.Va., who was known for her work in helping the community and supporting arts and senior citizen organizations, died at her home Saturday night, friends said Sunday.

Sutherland was involved in many philanthropic efforts in the area, and was a big supporter of the Boarman Arts Center and the new Berkeley Senior Services facility on North High Street, said Sarah Steptoe, a friend of Sutherland's who grew up with her in Martinsburg.

Sutherland helped start the Boarman Arts Center and served as the first president of the center, said her brother, Bobby Fierro.


Sutherland also was involved in just about every outreach program through her church - Trinity Episcopal Church - such as Meals on Wheels and the church's day-care center, Steptoe said.

"She was just such a good person," Steptoe said.

"She was into everything. I can't even remember everything. And I'm her brother," said Fierro, of Hagerstown.

Although Sutherland gave money to a lot of causes, it was done with little fanfare, Martinsburg Mayor George Karos said.

"She was the type of person who did not like a lot of notoriety," Karos said. "She was a very gracious individual. (She) just had a wonderful outlook on life."

Sutherland and her brother operated a fruit-brokering business on West Race Street, which they closed last November.

Inside the office, there were "plaques galore" honoring Sutherland's efforts, Fierro said. Former Gov. Cecil Underwood once honored Sutherland for her work, Fierro said.

Sutherland's work in the fruit business could be traced to her father, who immigrated to the United States from Italy and started a fruit-sales business on Burke Street, Steptoe said.

Sutherland was a member of the Martinsburg Rotary Club and also was a member of an organization called The Travel Club, an organization of local residents who wrote papers about their travel experiences, some of which were published in a local newspaper, Steptoe said.

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