Robert E. “Bob” Sutherland, 1939-2023
February 15, 2023
A message from WMB President & CEO, Frank B. Wilson:
It is with a very heavy heart that I share the news that R.E. “Bob” Sutherland, Chairman of our Board of Directors, and former President and CEO Of Wilson & Muir, passed away on Thursday, February 9, 2023. To honor Bob and allow our WMB family the opportunity to pay their respects, all Wilson & Muir branches will close at noon on Monday, February 20, 2023.
Read below as Frank shares his remarks about Bob’s fantastic legacy and the obituary.
R. E. (Bob) Sutherland, the Chairman of Wilson & Muir Bank & Trust Co., and former President and CEO passed away suddenly from natural causes at his home in Louisville on February 9, 2023.
Bob began his long banking career in 1966 as a correspondent banker with Liberty National Bank, based in Louisville, that took him all over the state calling on community banks. He and his wife, Ann Early moved to Bardstown and after a short stint at Farmers Bank, he joined Wilson & Muir in 1973 where he was soon named President in 1974. At that time the bank employed 20 people and had assets of $15 million at its only location in downtown Bardstown. With the change in branch banking laws, Bob was instrumental in establishing a strong strategic platform that saw WMB grow to over $740 million in assets with 11 locations, employing 154 people across five counties in Central Kentucky over his 51-year career. Reflecting on his time working with Bob for over 40 years, Mike Sloane, former President, and current board member at Wilson & Muir stated, “We should never forget that we stand on the shoulders of those who created the culture we enjoy at WMB and Bob was one of the strongest of shoulders”. Frank B. Wilson, current CEO and President of the bank, referred to Bob as a “mentor, friend, and father figure to many of us. He was as vibrant and focused as ever at our board meeting only one day before his passing. Just days before he was enjoying one of his favorite hobbies, fishing in the intercoastal waters around Venice, Florida”.
Max L. Shapira, Executive Chairman of Heaven Hill Brands and long-time Director of Wilson & Muir, has worked with Bob since he first joined WMB. “Bob was the quintessential business leader, always thorough in his approach but always aware of developing a firm path for the future,” Shapira said in a statement. “At the same time, he understood that as a leader of an important business in several communities his decisions not only affected those communities, but how those decisions would affect the many individuals who lived there. His foresight and sense of excellence will be forever remembered.”
Kim Huston, the Executive Director of Nelson County Economic Development Corporation stated “there was not an economic development agency in Bardstown that Bob Sutherland did not have a hand in. He served as Chairman of both the Bardstown Industrial Development Corporation and the Bardstown Chamber of Commerce over the course of his career. It was his foresight to rally around the growing downtown to organize and fund the Bardstown Downtown Development Corporation which was the impetus for today’s award-winning Bardstown Main Street program”.
Wilson, speaking on behalf of the Board of Directors and the entire Wilson & Muir family said, “Words cannot express the respect, appreciation, and gratitude for the contributions Bob has made to our organization and the communities in which we serve. Those contributions allow us to be a part of this tradition and have been impactful in so many ways. I am confident that all we have learned from Bob will allow us to continue to build on his legacy well into the future”. Bob is survived by his wife of 56 years, Ann Early, his daughter Ann Sutherland Watts and her husband David, and son, Robert E. (Chip) Sutherland, Jr and his wife Nora along with five grandchildren. Below is the obituary written by Bob’s children.
R. E. (Bob) Sutherland's Obituary
Robert Edward (Bob) Sutherland formally of Bardstown, passed away Thursday, February 9, 2023, at the age of 84. He was born February 23, 1938, in Bloomfield to the late Robert Johnson and Lucille Huston Sutherland. Bob was touchingly devoted to his beloved wife Ann Early Hatton Sutherland whom he married in 1966. Bob was passionate about family, banking, current affairs, UK sports, golfing, and fishing.
He was a proud graduate of the Kentucky Military Institute in 1956 and The University of Kentucky where, as a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternal order, he forged everlasting brotherly bonds. He served in the Kentucky Army Reserves and began his professional career using his engineering training to build public roads.
Sensing a need to more substantively impact the paths of others, he embarked on a banking career beginning with Liberty National Bank in Louisville in 1963. Joining Wilson & Muir Bank in Bardstown in 1973, the board named him President in 1974, and he served as Chairman of the Board until his passing. During his banking career, Bob actively engaged in the board leadership of the Kentucky Bankers Association, the American Bankers Association, and BancInsure. As a gifted reader of one’s character, he expertly judged credit considerations and enjoyed seeing the ultimate success of those with whom he built foundational relationships. Bob took to heart Wilson & Muir Bank & Trust Company’s heritage which, in his words, “placed a premium on building relationships with our customers.” He treasured his WMB family and its customers.
Bob loved community. Indeed, where he planted professional roots of the bank, he committed to focusing group effort towards fostering economic growth and unbiased advancement for individuals, businesses, and the community. He served as Chairman of both the Bardstown Industrial Development Corporation and the Nelson County Chamber of Commerce, and past director for the Bardstown Kiwanis Club, the Nelson County Fair Board, past trustee of St. Catherine College and was very influential in the early efforts of the Bardstown Main Street program. Bob also served on the Mayor’s Advisory Council under Bardstown Mayor Guthrie Wilson. A man of faith, he and Ann Early were among the founding members of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Bardstown having served as Senior Warden. Bob was a member of the Society of Colonial Wars, a Kentucky Colonel, and in years past an active fisherman with the Bardstown Bassmaster Club.
Bob’s success as a business leader was only trumped by his achievements as a masterful husband, father, family man and endearing friend to all of us who considered Bob our trusted counsel and one-of-a-kind special companion.
Bob is survived by his wife, Ann Early Hatton Sutherland, a daughter Ann Davidson (David) Watts, Snowmass, CO, a son Robert Edward “Chip” (Nora) Sutherland of Glenview, a sister Betty Lou Rogers of Bardstown, a brother Dan (Sue) Sutherland of Taylorsville and his most precious treasures his granddaughters, Abigail Sutherland, Lucy Sutherland, Lilly Sutherland, Hannah Watts, and Hattie Watts.
Arrangements of visitation will be held on Monday, February 20th from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM at Houghlin-Greenwell Funeral Home, 1475 New Shepherdsville Road, Bardstown, KY.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial contribution in honor of Bob Sutherland to The Church of the Ascension, Bardstown and/or actively participate to service your community for future generations.
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