Janet Sutherland, 1933-2011

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Janet Sutherland, born in Bellingham, Wash., on Oct. 12, 1933, was a lifelong working-class partisan and a valued Freedom Socialist Party comrade for 33 years. She died in Seattle on May 9.

A high school English teacher for four decades, she was revered by many students long after graduation. A core staffer of the early Freedom Socialist, she helped put the FS on a foundation of high-quality political journalism, continuing to volunteer over the years.

Sutherland was openhanded with time, money, and use of the home she shared with her longtime partner, attorney Val Carlson. Janet contributed long hours on two landmark FSP court victories: founder Clara Fraser’s sex and political ideology discrimination case against Seattle City Light and the Freeway Hall Case, which upheld the privacy rights of minority political organizations. She was renowned for her brevity and wit in meetings.

A passionate feminist, Sutherland served on Seattle Radical Women’s executive committee for a number of years. She taught classes and mentored younger comrades in the art of clear, concise writing. She penned innumerable statements, letters to the editor, and press releases until weeks before her death.

Janet will be missed for her generosity and talents and for the calmness and humor that made hard times bearable and good times better.

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