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Went to be with God on Sunday, March 5th 2023. She was 79 years of age. Born in Harrodsburg, KY to Irene Renfro (bookkeeper and secretary honored highly) and Chief Warrant Officer Anthony Joseph Suroski on Dec. 31, 1942 as a twin. Brother William was still born. Never a braggart but full of love for all. Her many awards and accomplishments would fill several volumes. Her only praise accepted was given to her by close friend Anna Armstrong. “JoAnn thought outside the box before the rest of us even knew there was a box”.
Her early years (she started performing at age 3), she was known as JoAnn Taylor. She wed Atty. David A. Taylor of Harrodsburg, KY.
Life was centered around the Harrodsburg Christian Church, education, and schools (20 years teaching) and home life. Here are some highlights.
At church she was a Deacon, pianist & organist for so many, VBS, the choir director, and many recitals and soloists. She had two masters’ degrees from University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University. Winner of many scholar awards, valedictorian, 3 scholarships, one in art. Scholarship to Interlochen Arts Academy (Mich.) for art and piano. Later her art prints were for sale. They sold out.
She wrote and published Harrodsburg City Song (adopted) and made a KY, Colonel (age 15). Playwright: starred in dramas and musicals as actress, singer, and dancer. Entertainer: hostess for several Governors and candidates in their home. High award: local district, and state of KY. Woman of the year for BPW. 4 times Outstanding National Women of Merit for USA. JoAnn appeared numerous times on television. Twice trained winners of Ky. State Jr. Miss pageants.
Central to Mary Chief Jones & JoAnn started the “Ragged Edge Theatre Klub” which is still strong. JoAnn was also an officer for the Fort Harrod Drama Board and officer for the library board. A charter member of Delta Kappa Gamma Pi Chapter (teacher’s sorority).
An avid fisherman, pet owner, collector of stamps and magnets (world), jewelry maker, furniture restorer, and t-shirt designer. She loved her students of elementary (over 20 years) and through life over 55 years of piano and voice. She started the first enrichment program for gifted in 2 schools and ran a summer program for the same from her home.
At age 38 she met and married Col. John L. Sutherland of Houston, TX (3 years of military, Desert Storm trainer and commander). He served as the Texas State ROA president and she as the State of Texas Chaplain. Then she was elected president. She and her “soul mate”. The Texas State ROA awarded JoAnn the photography for the state ROA. She served briefly for Senator Charlie Wilson and he sent her many fine papers and photos for her to cherish. She became a Stephen Ministry leader and instructor. She finished her minister’s degree and known as Dr. JoAnn Sutherland. Was chaplain for WHAM and John & JoAnn tested teachers for their ability to teach. She worked briefly in Puerto Rico for indigent families for the US government.
For Elon University, Dr. Brooke Barnett and Dr. Tom Mould flew to TX to film and videotape JoAnn’s life (& John) and her teaching methods.
A little later JoAnn wrote, sang, played, and recorded her original “Quilter’s Song” for the Women of Grace. She was an avid Women of Grace Circle and group meet for nearly 40 years. She received the Presbyterian Woman of the Church for the year for her devotion and work.
John passed to God in 2014 and JoAnn is to be interred with him in the Houston Military Cemetery.
They traveled 15 cruises. JoAnn had 43 states and 37 foreign countries to her credit. She had studied Latin, French, and Hebrew. She authored 2 books but proceeds went to charity and foreign lands. JoAnn was a member of Encore Choir, a trio (John was also a musician), and especially Mission committee and the wonderful Gathering (dementia patients) and great volunteers.
A final highlight: in her 70s she was chosen to model Lavien jewelry.
To end is to begin thinking with love. Remember me with love as God loves you so have I. For over 40 operations in my life, I thank all the doctors and nurses to saved me but special love and devotion goes to Dr. Clay Albrect, a precious friend and his beautiful family.
With love and devotion to 3 other men who were always there by my side: Henry Peavler, Harrodsburg, Steve Scott and Jeff Wilson. Stepdaughter: Suzanne Sutherland (Houston), elder daughter Brooke Vega (deceased). Goddaughters with much love and their wonderful families: Renee Lauch (Dallas), Sister Joy Wolfe, Dr. Kristin Wolfe (Dallas), Aimee Monteverde (Houston).
Without these she owed survival: Ann & Bill McIntire, Lyn Sell, Goddaughter Aimee Monteverde. Others, precious and always helping: Gail Dale, Betty Russell, Nancy Reed, Billie Federman, Kellye Heneck, Ruth Weatherall, and Jody Duffey. Much love for cousins and their fine families: Charlotte H. Lippert (Cincinnati, OH), Betty R. (Danville, KY), and Church Renfro (N. Carolina). Blessings to Pat Rockas and Carolyn Worley – best friends through life. And love to “Little Sister”, Harriet Ruby” of Harrodsburg, KY. To God, thank you for my mentor and beautiful mother, Irene. JoAnn asked that Rev. Dr. Michael Fry, Rev. Denise Phelps, and Rev. Stella S. speak at her service. A special and loving friend, Aaron D. Wilson was asked for piano music only at the service.
A memorial service will be held on Monday, March 13, 2023 @ 11 AM in the Chapel at Grace Presbyterian Church. Aaron Wilson with play the piano music, Mike Fry will officiate, and a reception will follow in the Welcome/ Gathering area afterwards. Her remains will be taken to the Veterans Memorial Cemetery to be placed with her husband, John. JoAnn requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The Gathering or the Chancel Choir at Grace Presbyterian Church or to WHAM.
SUBMITTED WITH PERMISSION FROM FAMILY AND
FOREST PARK WESTHEIMER FUNERAL HOME AND CEMETERY
128 WESTHEIMER ROAD ~ HOUSTON, TEXAS 77077
PHONE: (281) 497-2330