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Civility Program Speaker: Frank Sutherland
Former Editor of The Tennessean
Frank Sutherland was born at Smyrna Air Force Base three months before the end of World War II. As a youth, he lived in Madison and Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, the latter community where his father operated a rural telephone company. As a 17-year-old freshman at Vanderbilt University, he began work at The Tennessean, covering higher education at Nashville colleges and the weekend police beat. He ultimately graduated from Vanderbilt with a major in philosophy and minors in mathematics and history. In 1977-78, he was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.
At The Tennessean, he served as youth page editor, education news editor, metro reporter, state government reporter, regional editor and city editor. Among his memorable stories, he wrote an award-winning series of stories based on his posing as a patient for 31 days at what was then Central State Psychiatric Hospital.
After Gannett purchased The Tennessean, Sutherland served as the top editor at Gannett papers in Hattiesburg, Miss, Jackson Tenn., and Shreveport, La., before being named editor of The Tennessean in 1989. He was later named vice president/news and senior vice president/news in addition to his title as editor. He retired as editor in 2004. Seven times in his tenure at Gannett, he was named one of the top editors in the company. After his retirement he served as a consultant to Gannett and other newspapers.
In 1994, he began publishing a wine column in The Tennessean. The column was syndicated in Gannett and other newspapers around the country as well as more than two dozen web sites. He retired the newspaper column in 2010. He also designs and/or constructs wine cellars. He has designed or consulted on some of the largest wine cellars in Tennessee.
Sutherland is a past member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and a past president of the Society of Professional Journalists, the nation’s largest journalism organization.
In 1982, Sutherland and former Blair College Dean Del Sawyer initiated the W. O. Smith Community Music School. Sutherland is a lifetime member of that board.
Sutherland is married to Natilee Duning, a former writer at The Tennessean and retired editor at the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center. They have two children, Kate, of Denver, Colo., and Daniel, of Portland, Ore.