CPUSA Condolences: Marj Sutherland Memorial, 7/27/02

July 31, 2002

On behalf of the leadership of the Communist Party, USA and myself personally, I extend our warmest sympathy to the family of Marj Sutherland on their loss – to her mother, Irene Hull, herself an outstanding Communist and activist, to her daughter and son-in-law Laurie and Greg Arnold, to grandchildren Kendra and Quinn, sisters Beverly and Sally, and to the rest of the Sutherland/Lindberg family. The loss is felt not only by the family, but by our party and the peoples’ movements in which she so unstintingly played a part.

A loss is felt because of the contributions which a person makes while they live. That is why the loss of Marj is so keenly and widely felt – because she made so many contributions in many different areas of life. Marj felt her life was intimately bound up with all who work for a living, with all who suffer oppression and yearned for a better world. So, just as she worked for peace and solidarity with the victims of U.S. imperialism, she joined with those fighting the real fight for homeland defense – in the movements for jobs, equality and justice, that is, in the defense of people’s needs to live a life of peace, freedom and equality. This is in sharp contrast to the cynical and brutal use of the terrible tragedy of 9/11 to promote the ultra-right anti-people agenda of endless war, repression, growing poverty and inequality.

I had the priviledge of knowing Marj and her late husband Milford when I began to come to Washington state when I worked out of the national office of the Communist Party, starting in the mid-1970’s. During the period that they were in New York, Milford worked with me in the Communist Party’s Organization Department. Then there was the return to Washington where again I saw Marj in the course of my work during my visits to the state. It was in the course of meetings and discussions that I got to know Marj’s work and to appreciate her qualities and her contributions.

I never knew Marj to talk just to talk. She only spoke when she had somthing to say or she had a question to ask If she felt she needed to ask questions in order to understand better or to learn what she didn’t know, she asked. And what was striking was the passionate commitment to the working class and peoples’ movements on the one hand and her deep and clear thinking on the other. She never pretended to know something if she didn’t. Instead, she would probe to find out what she needed to know in order to understand better. There was no contrast for her between concern for people in general and for those she knew and those with whom she worked. Her humanism was real, whether expressed about the plight of those suffering far away or those near by.

She, as much as anyone I have ever met, exemplified Communist modesty. Not a false modesty, but always putting her contributions in the framework of the contributions of others and what needed to be done. It was never ‘show time’ for Marj. As a matter of course, she did what needed doing if it was at all possible for her to do it. She was not pretentious, and I never knew her to gossip or take delight in anyone’s misery or problems.

I did not see Marj during her final years, but I think she must have asked,’What kind of homeland defense is it that allows those responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands every year ( including Marj’s death this year) just to make maximum profits.’ For that is what the tobacco industry does. What is being defended, I think, is maximum profits no matter the cost in human lives. What is being defended is racism, male supremacy, growing poverty for millions, all for the maximum profits. Any inhumanity, degredation and poverty for the people – as long as the corporate-military axis can defend and extend its own greed for profits, power and property!

Marj understood well this cause and source of the problems and dangers confronting the people today. And she saw no gap between the fight to alleviate people’s suffering and hurt today and the fight for socialism under the leadership of the working class. Indeed, she knew that the only road to working class and people’s power was through the struggles of the people today.

She was a real Communist and fighter for human need. She was never bitter, and she never wavered in the struggle or doubted its necessary outcome.

Marj is no longer physically with us in our struggle for a world of peace, friendship and well-being, but her example not only strenghthens us in the battles. It will inevitably inspire others, new to the struggle, to join in and seek to fight as effectively, passionately and thoughtfully as she did. Many Marjes will take up the fight for human freedom and dignity. This is the basis for guaranteeing the victory over the corporate-military greed, so necessary to save humanity today and to open the way to a new world where people and their needs come first.

Presented by Arnold Becchetti for the CPUSA National Office


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