- Category : 1931-births
- Type : PSE
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (56,62)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Incarnation 1
Scottish-American Dean of Agriculture at the American University at Beirut who was taken hostage by terrorists in the mid-East hostage crisis. He studied agriculture in Scotland before immigrating to the U.S. in 1954 where he taught courses at the Colorado State University in livestock. In the mid-'70s, he and his wife Jean went to Ethiopia as advisors on how to boost meat production. Recruited by the American University at Beirut in 1980, family man Sutherland (wife Jean, born 1934, daughters Ann, born 1959, Kit, born 1960, and Joan, born 1964) did not accept the position until 1983, using the three year interval to weigh the singularly risky career decision.
In 1983, they went to Beirut, where the couple began the adventure of working and living in a foreign culture. Tom taught at the American University and Jean accepted a position as an English instructor. In the Spring of 1985, they traveled to America to attend the graduation of Kit from the University of Colorado. Jean stayed on to complete her dissertation in English literature while Tom flew back to Beirut alone.
En route from the airport to his on-campus home, he was stopped by gunmen who sprayed his car with automatic rifle fire and took him as a hostage. Kidnapped on 6/09/1985, he was held hostage by Muslim fundamentalists and kept in a Lebanese prison for over six years, 2,347 days, incognito and chained by the ankle to a wall. His family did not even know if he were dead or alive. Jean stayed in Beirut, pressing for information while daughters Ann , Kit and Joan returned to the U.S. Welcoming help from the US government, Jean and Kit met with Vice-President George Bush in 1985. Joan met with former National Security Chief John Poindexter and aide Oliver North. "We were asking for their support and we felt we got it."
While in captivity Sutherland maintained Scottish traditions, including a celebration of the birthday of poet Robert Burns. When a liberated American hostage delivered a letter to the Sutherland family, it contained questions regarding the brakes on daughter Joan's car.
Throughout the ordeal, the family members of Tom Sutherland kept a stiff upper lip. According to Kit, "From the beginning, Mom maintained the determination not to panic, and we fed off that. If she does cry, she does it in private."
Released on 11/18/1991, he returned home to Colorado to meet his family, which now included new grandchildren. The nation celebrated his freedom.