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Life Story / Obituary
Some people are larger than life, with an energy that keeps them moving forward no matter what and carries others along with them. Debra Sutherland was one of those people. Independent and opinionated, she always let people know what she thought, but she also made sure they knew how much she cared. Every choice she made demonstrated her determination in the face of difficulties and her fierce love for her family.
In the early 1950s, the U.S. was tentatively optimistic about the future. There were challenges ahead as the Korean War had begun and the Civil Rights movement was about to go full steam ahead, and advancements in science produced the first successful organ transplant, the polio vaccine, and the discovery of DNA. Amid all the hustle and bustle, Hugh and Evelyn (McCormick) Sutherland of Plainwell, Michigan, were thrilled to learn that by the end of the summer of 1951, they would be holding their first baby. On August 10, their dream became a reality when little Debra arrived.
Evelyn was a homemaker and foster parent while Hugh was a cattle farmer, so Debra and her younger sister and brother, Judy and Kim, quickly learned about hard work and pitching in. The lessons Deb learned about family loyalty and compassion never left her, even long after she’d left the farm behind. Her mother Evelyn worked as a special needs teacher, travel agent, and realtor after she left the farm.
Deb had a mischievous streak that sometimes caused more trouble than it was worth. She used to tease her little sister Judy while Judy was washing the dishes. One evening Judy had had enough and threw a butter knife at her, sticking Deb right between the eyes. That streak didn't only show itself at home; she once pulled the school's fire alarm just so she and her friends could get out and go to the bakery for doughnuts.
Deb graduated high school with the class of 1970. She then attended the State University of Beauty and earned her cosmetology license. She had married a military man named Dave Thomas in 1971, then later divorced.
Deb took a job at Beach Products in the neighboring town of Kalamazoo. It was there that she met and fell in love with Chuck Buchino. In 1975, they were married in a large church. She and Chuck had three boys, Dion, Nathan, and Brandon, who were the center of Deb’s world. Deb and Chuck divorced in 1989, but she was always grateful that the boys had come into her life during those years.
There was nothing easy about being a single parent, but she gave her boys everything she had. Stern but always quick to forgive, she taught them about responsibility and compassion by example as well as by her words. She didn’t care about pets, but she secretly loved all the critters that the boys had, and through the years helped care for their dogs, cats, rabbits, and even a ferret.
Deb worked in assembly at Parker Hannifin in Richland for over thirty years. She earned several awards due to her loyalty and strong work ethic. Despite working third shift, she still always made time for her kids. They sometimes thought she never slept! Deb retired in 2013. She loved having more time to watch the grandkids and when she had a free evening, she enjoyed bingo with friends.
At one point, Deb remarried briefly, but for the last several years she had been single and devoted to her family. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for her beloved grandchildren and she always made sure they knew that she was there for them. She said regularly, “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” but at the same time she happily spent what she had on her kids and grandkids. She always looked forward to the holidays when everyone was together and there was a good excuse to spoil everyone with too much food and too many presents.
Deb’s compassion and generosity was seen in many areas of her life, but maybe the most obvious was when she moved in with her mother to help where needed. They took several trips together and made a lot of fun memories. Deb was never one for sitting around. Always on the go, she loved shopping and going to big events like amusement parks and car races. She took her boys to hockey games and her grandkids to the zoo and craft shows. When attending her loved ones’ sporting events, she was always the loudest fan in the stands.
Deb’s legacy will be her tireless devotion to her family. She was always supportive of their decisions and was happy to see the good men that her boys became. It is much too soon to lose her support, energy, and presence, but she leaves her loved ones with countless happy memories as well as the assurance of her consistent and unconditional love for each and every one of them.
Deb died on November 7, 2016, at Life Care Center in Plainwell. She is survived by her mother; her three sons: Dion Buchino, Nathan Buchino, and Brandon (Sarah) Buchino; her brother Kim; six grandchildren: Tristen, Breonnah, Braydon, Devin, Catalina and Damein; as well as several nieces, nephews, and cousins. She was preceded in death by her father, Hugh, and her sister Judy.
Visit with her family and friends and view her Life Story film on Wednesday, November 16, 2016, from 4:00 – 7:00 pm at the Life Story Funeral Home - Plainwell, 120 Woodhams Street. Please visit Deb’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you may share a memory or photo and sign her guest register online. Memorial donations can be made to the Life Care Center of Plainwell.