James Wallace Sutherland

Wallace Sutherland

1934-2020Sutherland, James

James Wallace Sutherland passed away surrounded by family on October 30, 2020 in Edmond, OK, having just celebrated his 86th birthday with a small gathering of friends and family watching an undefeated start to the OSU football season.

Never wanting to be late, Wallace made a surprise early entry into this world on October 24, 1934, while his parents, Kelsie Cleo and Mamie Lois (Robison), were visiting friends in Wilson, OK. His only sibling, Ronald Ray, was born nearly five years later in the neighboring town of Ardmore, OK, the boys were raised and attended school in Healdton, OK. Earning his Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout Award at 15 years old, Wallace also served as president of both the Glee Club and Student Council, and was a four-year letterman in track, basketball and his beloved football at Healdton High.

Wallace began his career in the oil business working summers and part time as a roustabout for Magnolia Petroleum Company to pay his way through college at Oklahoma A & M (now Oklahoma State University) in Stillwater OK. In 1957, after he earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a Petroleum Option, he was hired full time by Magnolia as a roughneck in Odessa TX, and eventually shifted to petroleum engineer duties in Seminole TX. Wallace and his wife Ruth Ann Ezell – whom he knew from high school and married Sept 8, 1956 – moved to Denver City TX. Less than two years later in April of 1958 tragedy struck the young family. While pregnant, Ruth Ann unexplainably collapsed causing an early delivery to a stillborn son, Daryl Lane. Ruth Ann never regained consciousness and died the next day.

Wallace became a private in the US Army Reserve in California, but never served in active duty. He returned to his job at Magnolia by September, back in his hometown of Healdton. The start of a new year, 1960, was a fresh start for Wallace as a petroleum engineer at Mobile Oil Corporation in Drumright OK. Mobile took him to Kansas for a few months where Wallace functioned as a plant engineer, responsible for product specification, testing and measurement of dry gas, propane, butane and natural gas, as well as water quality and plant efficiency.

In August 1960, Wallace began working for the U.S Department of Interior (then U.S. Geological Survey) in Durango, and he fell in love with the mountains, planning to one day retire there. But his job took him to Roswell, NM, where he met his second wife DeDe Womack. The pair married December 28, 1963 and three years later welcomed their daughter, Andrea Dee. Wallace and DeDe divorced shortly after, and the father and daughter moved to Casper WY in 1969 for a four-year stint.

It was while living in Wyoming that Wallace received an anonymous hand-written letter from someone in Healdton, making him aware that a young lady he knew from high school, Kathleen Nabors, was also widowed and divorced with a child (son Tony, who was a teen) and was currently single. The letter included Kathy’s address. Wallace wrote her a letter and discovered she also had received an anonymous letter about Wallace. After corresponding for a few months, Kathy had to have surgery and Wallace made sure red roses greeted her when she woke up. Wallace visited her in Oklahoma and the two courted and wed in 1973.

The new family of four lived in Littleton CO until 1976, Tony stayed in Colorado to complete his senior year of high school. Wallace, Kathy, and Andrea moved to Albuquerque NM until 1983. Wallace and Kathy then moved to California, in Sacramento, Los Angeles and Ventura. Wallace retired in 1987 and finally was able to return to Durango. Wallace wanted to live in Durango year-round, but Kathy put her foot down and they spent the winters in Las Vegas and Oklahoma. When Wallace had his heart attack in 1997 while shoveling snow, the couple spent less and less time in Durango and eventually relocated back to Oklahoma to spend time with their kids and grandkids.

Wallace is remembered for his love of sports and teasing, constantly reminding his University of Oklahoma Sooners-loving kids that OSU had more total national championships (all sports) than OU. He was a repeat ABC Bowling League Champion in the mid 1960’s and early 1970’s. Wallace would intentionally change the pronunciation of words, just to drive Kathy crazy. His bright blue eyes were usually twinkling in laughter, playing with his three grandkids.

Wallace was proceeded in death by his parents, Cleo and Lois Sutherland; his first wife Ruth Ann, and infant son Daryl Lane; and wife Kathy Sutherland. He is survived by second wife DeDe Salzman of Sparks NV; daughter Andrea Shanks, her husband Shannon “Bubba,” their children Kelsie and Connor, all of Edmond OK; son Tony Wade, his wife Kim of Ada OK and their daughter Angel, of Stillwater OK; brother Ronald, his wife Audrey, their daughter Molly Trank, (husband Rick, children Collin and Kelsie Ann) and their son Steven (former wife Mandy, children Chase and Gracie) all of Allen TX.

Memorial service will be at 2 pm, Friday, Nov. 6 at the Matthews Funeral Home chapel, 601 S Kelly Ave, Edmond OK. Brian Jones will officiate.


We will be live streaming this service in an effort to accommodate those people that wish to attend but feel they should not due to the health environment.  To watch the service CLICK HERE to go to our YouTube page.  Then click on ‘Videos’ then ‘Live Streams’.

3 thoughts on “James Wallace Sutherland”

  1. Susan and JC Walker

    Wallace was dear and valued , a kind and generous man, treat all of us like royalty. He was a great father and grandfather, he was beloved. He will be missed Farewell, dear man, fly with the angels. Blessings to his dear family

  2. Sally & Tom Gruss

    It is with great sadness that the Gruss family learned of Wallace’s passing. What a great guy. We were lucky to have Wallace and Kathleen as neighbors here in the lakeside area of Kingston. They were always ready to have an early breakfast together at the spur of the moment. We so enjoyed their company. And Wallace surely did have that twinkle in his eye. Ready for teasing and mischief. They were sweet to share the grandchildren with us. The youngsters (then small) we recall rushing down the hill from our back deck to fish off our pond dock.. Many great memories. RIP Wallace. Sally & Tom Gruss

  3. Jo Ann Butler

    Wallace’s family (the Sutherlands and Robinsons) and our family (the Barbours) have been close friends for 2 generations. Our mothers, Lois Robinson Sutherland and Caroline Barton Barbour, were raised together and their families were friends. Some of our relatives married each other. Then my siblings and I went to school together in Healdton, Oklahoma. Wallace and I were in the same class for all 12 years of school. We, along with Ronnie (his brother), Bob (my brother), and Phyllis (my sister), always felt we were siblings. When we all married, we still kept in touch and a lot of our family members were also friends. To say that we will miss him is a gross understatement.

    We send our condolences to all his family members and pledge our prayers for them as they remember the life of a really great man.

    Jo Ann Barbour Butler (husband Pete)
    Bob Barbour
    Phyllis Barbour Brown

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