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Bruce Sutherland will always be remembered at the Lewiston Public Library, 305 S. Eighth St.
Bruce Sutherland will always be remembered at the Lewiston Public Library, 305 S. Eighth St.

Friends & family gather to honor Bruce Sutherland

by jmaloni
Tue, May 14th 2024 09:10 am

Former trustee gets plaque outside Lewiston Library

By Joshua Maloni

GM/Managing Editor

The Lewiston Public Library’s top supporter is now memorialized on the brick wall next to the front entrance.

At a special ceremony Saturday, library board members, local elected leaders and community advocates gathered together to honor the late Bruce Sutherland, unveiling a plaque with his name, photo and the message, “In honor and recognition of a friend and community leader whose unwavering dedication, uplifting vision, and tireless commitment to Lewiston has enriched our lives.

“This plaque stands as a permanent testament of our appreciation and gratitude for his service to our nation and his volunteer efforts that inspired us all.”

A former deputy mayor, village trustee and “Lewiston Jeopardy!” winner, Sutherland passed away unexpectedly in December 2021. Since then, his friends have sought the perfect place to pay tribute to one of Lewiston’s favorite sons.

Library board member Fred Caso explained, “It's something that sort of came organically. We would be at meetings, where our executive director, Jill Palermo, would be asking about doing something; and she'd say, ‘Well, we need to meet a contractor here,’ and ‘Who's going to do that with you?’ And she would say, ‘Well, Bruce used to do that.’ And we’d say, ‘Well, we need somebody to come down and sign some checks. Who can do that?’ ‘Well, Bruce used to run down and do that.’ It got to be three or four times and we said, ‘What are we doing to recognize Bruce?’

“We thought about putting a name in the (board) room, but said that's not enough. I sort of said, ‘Well, let me talk to some of his friends and see what will be an appropriate thing that Bruce would really like.’ I think, probably, the thing that he’d like the most is if we gave him an 18-hole golf course to come and play!

“I reached out to Lee Simonson; Lee's never without an opinion or an idea. It sort of bubbled over and, next thing I know, Tom Deal’s got a post on his Facebook page asking for information and asking for support. Stuff is coming in to Tom. They reached out to Rocco DelGrosso, who volunteered to put the plaque up; and other people that even offered assistance that we're not going to even use, like Jason Lombardi and A-1.

“Bruce was so beloved in the community, and it was just that organic thing that it just popped out.

“We want to thank you for coming today. And I really want to thank the other group that really stepped forward, is the Lewiston VFW, and they're here today. Bruce was a proud member of that organization.”

Fred Caso welcomes the crowd.

Lee Simonson shares memories of Bruce Sutherland.

Jackie Sutherland recalls her husband Bruce’s reading habits.


Simonson shared, “One of the proudest moments of my life was when I became Bruce Sutherland’s personal assistant – and he had me do all sorts of things. I was his chauffeur; on days when he let me, I was able to carry his briefcase. I also had to make sure that he got his name on all the plaques in the village. Except this one; this was not a Lee Simonson production. This was a Fred Caso and board of trustees production. For that, we are so, so grateful.

“Bruce loved the Lewiston Library. In fact – this is a sad story – but the last time I saw Bruce, I was parked across the street from his house. … I had just gotten out of DiCamillo’s and was getting back into my car, and just at that moment I saw Bruce coming down the stairs. He was obviously in some pain. I yelled across the street. I said, ‘Bruce, where are you going?’ And he lifted up his books. He said, ‘I'm going to the library.’ And I said, ‘Hey, have fun.’ And that was our last exchange. Little did we know that, just a few days later, that we would lose him.

“The point of the story is that he was not only a great leader for the library, but he was one of your best, if not most faithful patrons. He loved reading books; and he was always in the middle of some book or a novel.”

Simonson also shared a poem.

Sutherland’s wife, Jackie, added, “Bruce would be honored to be here today. Of course, they wouldn't have the plaque up, if he was, I guess!

“He did love to read – and it just drove me crazy, because he'd have (a book) in the downstairs bathroom, but also next to his chair in the TV room, one up on the bedside, and then one in the upstairs bathroom. He'd be reading them all at the same time. And it was all I could do to just get through one at a time and remember what I was reading.

“He did love it – and he loved the library, as Lee has said.

“I don't know if you know about the history of the picture that is on this plaque. It was taken by Si Simonson, Lee's dad. When we would come home from the military, off and on to visit, many times we got a family picture done at Simonson’s. And one time, Si said, ‘Someday I want to take a picture of you, Bruce, in your uniform, with my special camera,' and it was only for black and white pictures. He finally did get Bruce to put his uniform back on, and took the picture, and it's my favorite one – I have to say – that, of all the pictures that we have, that is my favorite.”

Lewiston Public Library President Christopher Pannozzo and Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steve Broderick join Jackie Sutherland in unveiling a plaque in honor of Bruce Sutherland.

Lewiston Public Library Executive Director Jill Palermo with board member Fred Caso and President Christopher Pannozzo.

Village of Lewiston Trustee Tina Coppins with Jackie Sutherland and Gayle Coppins-Walton.



By Lee Simonson

A son of Lewiston, by the river's flow,
Where Bruce Sutherland’s deep roots took hold.
A champion athlete for the green and white
On Lew-Port's fields, his star shone bright.

With his sweetheart Jackie by his side,
A love that blossomed, a bond to confide.
He soared through studies, a mind ever keen,
From SUNY Niagara to Geneseo's green.

But duty called, a different kind of flight,
The lure of the Air Force, he’d be a pilot alright.
Across the globe, his wings took him far,
Philippines, Panama, beneath distant stars.

T-37s, C-130s, and the B-1's might,
With B-52's thunder, a defender's right.
For twenty-six years, he served our air space,
A Colonel's rank, an honored leader's place.

At Dyess, a command to guide and hold,
Global Strike Command, a tale to be told.
Later a civilian’s call with Captain’s wings
And then Lewiston beckoned, with its heartstrings.

Highest rank in town, a steadying hand.
The VFW's projects, a volunteer so grand,
Circle of Honor, a memorial's rise,
For all of our heroes, beneath Lewiston's skies.

At the Library's helm, with wisdom he steered,
Lewiston's Historical, its tales he revered.
Fort Niagara's board, a steward of the past,
Village Trustee as well, his service first class.

Wounded Warriors, the Fire Company too,
Messiah Lutheran, devout in his pew.
All while a legend arose on the emerald greens,
Shooting his age, a feat rarely seen.

Adventures he shared, with a twinkle in his eye,
A life well-lived, beneath his hometown sky.
Beyond his service and stories told,
His humor and friendship were precious as gold.

So let us remember, this man so complete,
A patriot, a leader, on history's street.
For the love of his country, and his birthplace,
He will forever reside in Lewiston’s embrace.

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