Billy Claude Sutherland, Sr.
February 22, 1927 ~ October 31, 2018
Graveside memorial service for Billy Claude Sutherland, Sr., 91, of Longview, will be at 2pm Saturday November 10th at Stewart Cemetery, 15332 FM 782, Tatum, Texas with long-time friend Bob Everett officiating.
Bill was born in Celina, Texas to Ellis William and Mildred Elizabeth Sutherland. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Joyce Sutherland Marchal, his son Victor Jim Sutherland and his son Ellis Glenn Sutherland. Those left to cherish his memory include beloved friend Evelyn Edwards, son Billy Sutherland Jr. and his wife Deloys; daughter Tammy Jernigan and her husband Kenny; son Todd Sutherland and his wife Sarah; step son Charles Cooper and his wife Deb; step daughter Debbie Chapman and her husband Randy; step daughter Darla Moraw and her husband Ray; numerous cousins, nieces, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Bill was a proud veteran and served as a Merchant Marine in Okinawa during World War II with duty as a hot shell man on Victory Ship SS Virginia City. He also served on the cargo ship SS Hope and the Tanker SS Malay. Bill was at Okinawa when the war ended and spoke of spending time on the deck watching the tremendous fireworks display in the distance.
Bill lived life to the fullest and loved adventure. He rode a motorcycle to Alaska and was still riding a trike motorcycle on his 90th birthday. Bill spent over a decade on the professional Rodeo Circuit riding bulls with his sons across the western states and Canada. He was an avid hunter, fisherman and he even survived kayaking in his 80’s. Bill had a career as a brick and stone mason for 70 years often being referred to as a “burnt clay artist”.
Bill’s true passion and heart was in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. As far back as the 1950’s, he spent many hunting seasons and summer months enjoying the beauty of the mountains. After years of driving his personal Jeep in the mountains, Bill went to work for San Juan Scenic Jeep Tours in Ouray, Colorado. “Wild Bill” (as he was known to many) traveled the infamous Black Bear Road more than 2,000 times and has been labeled as a “Legend”. The State of Texas House of Representatives officially declared Bill an Honorary Texas Ambassador for his hours of pleasure provided to tourists from across our great country who visited Ouray, Colorado providing innumerable memories to thousands who traveled the high mountain trails.
The family would like to extend a special thanks to those who cared for Bill including the nurses and care givers at Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center and Donna Tenner RN of Angel Care Hospice of Henderson.
Bill had great respect and valued his friendship with Greg Pieper (owner of San Juan Scenic Jeep Tours) and all of the Jeep Tour Drivers. The family would love to hear stories or see pictures from those whose lives were touched by “Wild Bill”. Please share your stories, tall tales, pictures and memories at the following address or email. It may someday end up in a book about Wild Bill – the Legend of the San Juans.
San Juan Scenic Jeep Tours
PO Box 25
Ouray, CO 81427