A Great Man: David C. Sutherland III
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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 3:24 pm 

A Great Man

I have some profoundly sad news to report. David C. Sutherland III passed away sometime Tuesday in his residence in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. While his health had been in sharp decline, he was fairly active in his last days and was taking good care of himself. Thus, his death comes as sudden and unexpected.

Dave is survived by his ex-wife and two daughters. His sister Trudy, brother Scott, and mother would like to pass along their warmest regards to all of those who participated in the Collector's Trove auctions of David's collection over the past year. The funds have been placed in an account to support David's estate and his surviving family members.

He will be interred with full military honors at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN.

David as you know was a longtime artist in the gaming world. Producing countless works at an incredible rate, he helped illustrate the games of our imagination for generations of players. Wargames, roleplaying games, strategy games, and board games. David had done it all with the care and intensity that only a true fan of the historical, sci-fi, fantasy game genre could uphold.

The seminal artist of the Dungeons and Dragons and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game and the fantasy world of M.A.R. Barker's Tékumel, David helped shape the very roots of the roleplaying games we all know and love. His work is the canvas of our youth and fond sentiments. Many of the top writers and artists involved with the roleplaying games industry owe their inspiration and calling to him.

David's involvement in the art of games goes back to 1974 and the breadth and depth of his work is a roadmap for the history of the industry.

Every game industry person that knew Dave respected him for his unswerving devotion to art and remembered him for his great heart. Dave was a truly honest, loyal, decent, kind hearted soul, that selflessly shared a particularly keen wisdom to all around him. Many of them owe their happiness in life and life's calling to David. He was truly a man for others.

Born in 1949, in Minneapolis, David grew up in the image of his artistic father, David C. Sutherland II. His father's work in the paper industry brought vast supplies of creative material to their home and fueled David's interest in artistic endeavors. So too, his father's love for drawing, woodworking, and painting fixed Dave's heart in the field of art.

Dave, like his father, served in the military. Dave saw active duty as a Military Policeman in the Vietnam War in 1969-70. Also, like his father, David avidly sketched and recorded his days during the war.

Dave loved to dance, was an avid reader of science-fiction and fantasy novels, and became involved with the Society of Creative Anachronisms in the early 70's. He spent his free time drawing sketches and cartoons regarding these pastimes.

Eventually, Mike Mornard, a friend of Dave, also involved in the Society of Creative Anachronisms, would introduce Dave to Professor M.A.R. Barker at the University of Minnesota in 1975. The latter was producing an imaginary world for use with the wildly popular Dungeons and Dragons game published by TSR Hobbies of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The happy meeting of the two sparked a creative relationship and Dave began illustrating Barker's world for all to see. Soon, David was working for TSR and continued to do so for nearly 25 years. Loyalty.

Alas, TSR Hobbies was purchased in 1999 by Wizards of the Coast. Despite his unparalleled loyalty to TSR Hobbies the new company did not rehire Dave. In a particularly shameful moment for the roleplaying games industry, the company did not even give Dave so much as a single phone call.

This was a particularly devastating, heartbreaking, blow to David, a person founded in loyalty. Those years were unkind to David and they took a terrible toll on him. Soon his health was in sharp decline. Doctors gave him a terminal prognosis.

Work was sporadic for David during this time and he felt abandoned by the gaming industry. He was unhappy and unwell. He had given up wanting to live.

In autumn 2004, however, a meeting between Paul Stormberg of the Collector's Trove and Dave's sister Trudy, revealed Dave's fantastic collection of artwork, miniature sculptures, games, and game memorabilia. According to Dave's wishes the collection was to be auctioned off on eBay by the Collector's Trove. It was Dave's hope to add the proceeds to his estate so that he could provide a financial trust for his daughters upon his passing.

The response to the auction was tremendous, a huge outpouring of support from Dave's fans swelled interest in the auctions. To date the auctions and sales of Dave's collection have garnered over $22,000. Letters, cards, and emails poured in for David, all wishing him well and hoping for better health for him. Most importantly, they shared how much David's artwork had meant to them over the years.

The auction and subsequent communications were a real affirmation for David. Outside of his family and close friends, he never realized just how much of a positive impact he had on so many people from so many different walks of life.

This outpouring of well wishes and sentiments of appreciation gave David a new will to live. Every day he tried to rejuvenate his spirit and fine motor skills. He even finished a piece of artwork that had lain unfinished for years.

It would be tragic for a great man to die not knowing he was a great man. Dave knew. Thanks to all of you.

Cards and sentiments can be sent to Trudy DeKeuster, 13911 Castelar Circle, Omaha, NE 68144. Email correspondence and requests for additional information may be sent to Paul Stormberg at [email protected].


Paul J. Stormberg

The Collector's Trove The online auction house that features the collections of game designers and artists.


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 3:37 pm 

WOW!, I actually shed a tear.  Thanks Paul!

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 3:42 pm 

I'm so sorry to hear that, especially after Dave seemed to be improving after the auctions :-(

I'll send a card to Trudy and the rest of the family, Paul.

edit: Paul I posted to ENWorld and the WotC GH forum.

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 3:43 pm 

A sad day indeed.

- "When the going gets weird, the Weird turn pro."

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 4:00 pm 

almost at a loss for words really. a great man and i truly loved his artwork. i really REALLY wanted to win that portfolio of his art and was gutted that i lost out in the end. for me, it was "the one that got away".

i think he has left a legacy that will live for as long as there is 1 person in the world who loves all things RPG.

truly, a great loss to the role-playing world.

my heart truly goes out to David's family.


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 4:02 pm 


Paul, please contact me privately. I'd love to run an obituary in Dragon, and I'd love for you to write it.

Farewell, Dave. You will be missed.

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 4:02 pm 

This is a huge bummer. :(


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 4:06 pm 

Very sad day in the RPG world for sure. :cry: Dave certainly touched a lot of our lives through his awesome artwork and his many other contributions. My thoughts and prayers go out to Dave's family and friends. He will be truely missed...........


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 4:09 pm 

Ralf Toth wrote:A sad day indeed.

For Old School D&D'ers like myself, the most iconic images of the hobby were drawn by Erol Otus, Dave Trampier and Dave Sutherland.  Let's face it, if you've been gaming 25 years+, when you think of a monster how many of us flash back to a DCS illustration in the original Monster Manual?   I just took a few minutes when Paul announced the news to flip through the MM, and I had to think that if Tramp's and Dave's illustrations hadn't been so damn cool (to a 14 year old kid) then who knows if the game would have held our interest that long...for a game built entirely in the mind, it helped to have Dave's illos of an Umber Hulk, Gargoyle, Mnd Flayer, Bugbear or Demon in our heads as our characters stood against one in battle. I'm glad that in the last year DCS hopefully realized how appreciated he was by all of us who made this game a major part of our lives the last 3 decades.

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 4:26 pm 

Albeit I wasn't a big fan of DCS artwork (for me, D&D is exemplified by Elmore, but I discovered D&D in 1985...), these are very, very sad news :( . I'm particularly embittered by the brutal behaviour of WotC management :evil: in firing a person working for TSR 25 years flat. Anyway, I will post Stormber eulogy on Dungeons.it (http://www.dungeons.it) so Italian fans will be informed too.
I have literally tears in my eyes writing the post for the web site   :cry:


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 6:43 pm 

David is not dead.

He just went onwards, in that fantastic mystery realm he evoked so well.

He's living, forever, in our hearts, in the memory of what his paintings suggested in us, when we were "young and foolish", starry eyed and completely carried away by the images we were seeing.

Thank you David, we will not forget how much you and others like you made us dream.

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 6:56 pm 

My condolences to the family.

Like someone (Klaus) put it very well on EN World: "Time to map Heaven, David".

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 7:33 pm 

Dave will truly be missed. He was one of the best artists in the business. When you think of AD&D you definitely conjure up his artwork.

I've posted a link and the news about this on the Necromancer Games forums.

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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 8:39 pm 

A very sad event indeed. This marks not only the passing of a much respected man but also the passing of an energy that is responsible for igniting my imagination. I can still smell that freshly printed DMG off the bookshelf at the department store where I persuaded my mother to buy it for me. Such an odd item it was in the hands of a 10 year old but it sure did suit my thirst in terms of many hours of entertainment.

Great memories of a piece of my childhood owes a lot to the work of this man and many of the other humble artists and designers from those early days of TSR. I can't help but feel as if a piece of me has gone. :cry:

Best wishes and condolences to his family.


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 9:16 pm 

Thank you for posting this.  I'm so sorry to have heard he passed as he did, I'm glad you made his ending easier for him.




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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 10:42 pm 


When I heard he was getting better, I had some hope.

Reality can really suck sometimes.

Condolences for the family.
And the fans. We need it too.

Dave, get the barbarian in the corner a drink, quick!


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Post Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 11:33 pm 

I had hoped he was getting better.  

Condolences to the family.


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Post Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2005 12:08 am 

dathon wrote:I had hoped he was getting better.

Alas, Tadashi and I had asked Paul about when Dave would be up for doing more art/map projects a few months ago, and we were waiting for finalized contracts for a new project before we were going to approach Dave with a definite offer to do the maps.  Unfortunately the timing just didn't work out :(

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