Monday, August 30, 2010

Remembering Dennie Sutherland

This is a piece written by Wendy Greenwood, RN, who works in Fauquier Hospital's Surgical Services Department. Wendy wrote this column when she learned of the death of Dennie Sutherland, a much-loved resident and Warrenton Town Council member-- and the husband of a fellow Fauquier Hospital employee.

Recently I came to the realization that I share a connection with someone right here in Fauquier Hospital -- to Anita Sutherland, through her sweet husband Dennie. Unfortunately, it took his passing to bring that connection into clarity for me. You see, I did not know that Dennie was Anita’s husband. I guess it never came up in conversation.

Dennie Sutherland had a great impact on my life here in Warrenton. In fact, I live with a part of him every day of my life. Our relationship started over the color green. Let me explain. As a military wife we moved every two to three years. Until I moved to Virginia we rented or purchased a home with the intent of selling quickly, so we NEVER painted color on walls….only white.

Fast forward to my move to Fauquier County. Home purchased, Check. Going to paint walls any color but white, Check. Going to pull out pictures I’ve been saving for years of rooms and color schemes and use them in my new home, Check. Going to The Paint Shop in Warrenton to purchase paint, Check. Standing in front of paint color sample section with a magazine picture in hand and looking like a deer caught in head lights, Check.

Yes, that was me ... anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m science-minded and not very artistic. So who knew that “green” came in so many variations? I needed a flow chart, an algorithm ... something! I needed green! Not just any green but the green in my picture. Enter Mr. Dennie into my story.

We called him Mr. Dennie because that is what my son Alex (3 at the time) dubbed him immediately upon introduction. That just stuck, even after he left The Paint Shop.
Back to my sad, pitiful self staring like a lost soul at the green section of the paint store. Mr. Dennie, in his soft spoken way, asked if I needed help. I’m sure he was really thinking more along the “psychological type” since I’m sure I looked like I was about to have a nervous breakdown over ... paint colors! After much explanation and showing him my catalog of saved pictures, he diagnosed me. “You are color phobic.”


It took about trips trips to The Paint Shop and multiple “consultations” to finally come up with the color: Great Barrington Green. Honestly, I wasn’t really sure. I had actually picked out a darker color. Mr. Dennie disagreed. He said perhaps I should consider a slightly lighter color with a different undertone considering the fabric selections in my formal dining room. What? Undertones….I have to consider undertones, really? I wanted to cry. I just wanted two gallons of green paint!!

After the final selection, mixing the color and the purchasing of brushes, tape and assorted other “tools,” Mr. Dennie sent me home to paint. But before I left, he pulled me aside and said something to me I will NEVER forget. (It’s a life lesson, so stick with me here.) “When you start this project, prep everything first. It will take a lot of time, but it will make the whole project easier. Then when you start painting, don’t stop and look at the project, just keep going until you’ve finished the first wall. Next, don’t freak out at the color after the first coat, it will require at least two coats for full coverage. So, don’t think about it girl….just keep going.”

Well, true to his advice the prep work made the project easier, the first coat of paint looked atrocious, and he was correct that I was internally “panicking” over the color and the spottiness of the wall. But he was right about many other things too…..The color Great Barrington Green, while very dark, looks fantastic at night when lit up with a chandelier and candlight. It is a color that invites you to come in and be cocooned into its warmth. At night, it also seems strangely comforting and peaceful, making you want to linger over another glass of wine, port or dessert. It’s a “homey and hospitable color.”


Since that time, Mr. Dennie helped me pick out about 10 different paint colors and taught me the basics of “glazing” for a wall project in my living room. He helped me pick out the colors on my garden fencing and my barn color. He even helped me research an old Benjamin Moore paint color that used to be “1038;” a favorite color of our dear friends and our former Marine Commander. (In case you are wondering it’s now called “Everlasting” and it shows off art work and collectibles fantastically.)

So, it is true. Mr. Dennie colored my world, literally. He took me past my color phobia and helped me make decisions about the colors and moods that dominate my home. I see those walls every day. I think of him now more than ever. Now, when I look at those walls, I think of how he touched my family’s life. But really, I think the lesson he shared with me that first day of painting was even more profound.

• Do your prep work up front to make your project easier.
• Don’t stop and second guess your choice.
• Just keep on going, girl.


And finally, although not explicitly stated. Don’t let your fear stop your progress and if you can do these things, you may just end up with something beautiful.

So, thank you Mr. Dennie, and thank you Anita for unknowingly sharing a part of your kind husband with me and my family.

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