10th National President
The Tenth National President of The Links, Incorporated, Marion Elizabeth Schultz Sutherland who described herself as a “professional volunteer,” was unanimously elected at the 1990 Assembly. Her father, The Reverend Clyde Mitchell Schultz, died when she was only eight years of age, but she was embraced and shepherded by caring relatives in Springfield, Illinois. As a member of the Schultz family, she is four generations removed from Schultztown, Kentucky. Her Aunt, Jessie Mae Schultz Finley, taught her to play the piano when she was very young and her uncle, James Samuel Schultz, a merchant mariner during World War II, sponsored her matriculation at Howard University after she finished high school. Link Sutherland married Raymond Merriwether, a fellow student at Howard University, and interrupted her studies to become the mother of a baby girl, Chrystal.
After her husband’s graduation in Civil Engineering, their search for a hometown which would offer opportunities for African Americans brought the young family to Seattle, Washington. They quickly became involved in the community. Her husband became a successful developer of apartment houses and nursing homes in the greater Seattle area, and Link Sutherland became a Nursing Home Administrator. Together, they published and edited a community newspaper, the Pacific Leader. As a state licensed administrator, Link Sutherland spent many hours overseeing the homes but was still busy as a housewife and mother. Reflecting back, however, she recalled that although she was involved in entrepreneurial activities, her real love was rendering service to those around her. She served as president of the Seattle Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated, on the Board of Managers of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, as chairman of the United Negro College Fund’s Lou Rawl’s Parade of Stars Telethons, as president and chairman of the Board of the Seattle First Baptist Church, and as Chairman of the University of Washington’s Educational Opportunity Program. Dr. Samuel E. Kelly, former Vice-President at the University, said of her, “As an early founder of the Friends of the Educational Opportunity Program at the University of Washington, Marion contributed innumerable hours toward the development of a scholarship fund which ultimately produced over $500,000 during the time in which she served on the Board. Moreover, she was exceedingly generous in a monetary way, further demonstrating her support of programs for the disadvantaged.”
Having been surrounded by a large musical family and a host of talented friends early in life, Link Sutherland combines her music with her love for young people, and has used her talents to direct youth choirs in local churches. When the family returned to Seattle after a short period in Pullman, Washington where her husband earned a degree in Architecture, Link Sutherland organized a youth choir around her own children, Chrystal and Clyde. During her years as editor of The Pacific Leader, she and her husband sponsored a group of high school girls, “The Leaderettes,” who were active in promoting good citizenship and wholesome entertainment for their peers. Even now, she says, a familiar face will sometimes greet her in various cities and a young woman will remind Link Sutherland of how she, as a Leaderette, had profited from those experiences.
After Link Sutherland and her first husband were divorced, she married Colonel Earl Sutherland (ret.) a Metallurgical Engineer and a fellow member of the Board of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society. Connecting Link Sutherland attended every Links National Assembly and Western Area Conference since 1971 as well as many other Area Conferences. Feeling the need to broaden her education “just for the joy of it,” Link Sutherland earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech and Sociology from Portland State University and took graduate studies at Seattle Pacific University, majoring in Christian Ministries. President Sutherland is a member of the Board of the Seattle Foundation and has served as a trustee of the Seattle Opera Association. With a keen awareness of the need for the African-American community to develop an appreciation and involvement in the more traditionally classical art forms, she was a leader in developing an African-American awareness program for the Seattle Opera. Working closely with internationally known opera director, Glynn Ross, and world famous artists, she spearheaded the efforts of the Seattle Opera’s Community Involvement Committee to develop a series of programs, which were presented, in local schools and churches by operatic stars. These programs were well received by the public and gave aspiring young African American youth the opportunity to meet role models who encouraged them to develop their talents and skills in this field of artistic endeavor.
This busy Link found time during the years to maintain active involvement with her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta; with the Astra Parliamentary Law Unit and the Seattle Urban League. Much of her life and activities center around her church. She served as President and Chairman of the Board of the Seattle First Baptist Church Corporation; member of the Board of Managers of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society and president of the women of her church. She supports three Christian Children’s Fund children. In addition, to her music, she lists writing and contract bridge as her hobbies. She is a Life Master of the American Contract Bridge League and American Bridge Association, and is a published author. Since 1971, President Sutherland has increasingly devoted her time and efforts to various leadership roles with The Links. Before being elected as the organization’s first National President from the Western Area in its forty-four year history, she served as National Vice President, Area Program Coordinator, Western Area Director, Western Area Vice Director, Area Chairman of National and International Trends and Services, and President of the Seattle Chapter. Link Sutherland sees the vista of today’s environment as bringing new challenges for the volunteer committed to improving the quality of life for all humanity. “The present status of life in our inner cities, with its high unemployment and less than ideal opportunities, demands that we bring together our best minds and talents to resolve these problems with new strategies and tactics. This is our real challenge,” said Marion Sutherland as she chose for her theme, “Cherishing the Past-Cultivating the Present-Creating the Future.” In recognition of her services as a “consummate volunteer” who had dedicated her life to giving service to mankind, The Honorable Norman B. Rice, Mayor of Seattle, proclaimed November 4, 1990, as Marion Schultz Sutherland Day.
A loving mom, friend, leader, and volunteer, Link Sutherland passed on June 24, 2015.