January 31, 1941 – Robert Sutherland graduated from the California School of Mechanical Arts in San Francisco. This school offered a technical junior college course that bestowed an Associate of Arts upon graduation. Robert, a 1938 Mendocino High School graduate, majored in Machine Shop Practice and served an apprenticeship with the Pacific Can Company of San Francisco. The company had recently hired him as an employee, and the Beacon reported that he liked the work very much.

Young children sitting in rows on steps facing camera

Mendocino Grammar School Class, 1926-1927. First and Second Grades. 1st Grade Teacher: Miss Prentiss, 2nd Grade Teacher: Miss Chambers. (Gift of Mrs. Myrtle Silva)
Top Row, L to R: Martin Christiansen, Richard Sypriano, Johnny Rodgers, John ?, unidentified, Bill Escola, Fritz Porteous, unidentified, and Francis Jackson
2nd Row, L to R: Merlin Culver, Martin Rodgers, Nicholas Rodgers, Joe Silva, Elmer Hamlin, Eddie Lenhares, and Tony Silva
3rd Row, L to R: Dorothy Castono, Florence Goldsam, Dorothy Freeman, Dorothy Cleary, Virginia Costa, Ruth Horn, Isabel Rodgers, Hazel Silva, June Sypriano, Geraldine Gomes, Elvira Costa, and Alice Silvia
4th (Front) Row: L to R: Robert Sutherland, Bob Valena, Auburn Cosle, Kurt Nolte, Walter Moilanen, George Silva, Kenneth Daniels, Mervyn Swanson, Dave Stauer, and Kenneth Nicholson

Born in Maine in February 1920, Robert was the son of George R. Sutherland and Elsie Packard Sutherland. Elsie was born in Mendocino in 1886, the daughter of Mendocino pioneer Justin Packard. Her husband George died suddenly from pneumonia just two months before Robert was born, and in 1924, Elsie and her 4-year-old son returned to Mendocino.

In October 1941, Robert enlisted in the Army Air Corps where he worked as a machinist and airplane mechanic with the 83rd Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group and served three years in England and Scotland. After the war, he accepted a position at the Roberts Jewelry Company in Ukiah where he learned the trade of watchmaking and repairing – the same profession his grandfather, Justin Packard, had practiced in the early days of Mendocino.

Robert married Vivian Jean Thornton in Ukiah in 1955, and lived the rest of his life in the county seat, where he continued to work as a machinist and audio-visual technician. When he passed away in 2002 at the age of 82, the Ukiah Daily Journal wrote, “He will be remembered for his enthusiasm and for looking at planets and stars with his telescope.”

New Museum Hours! Now open on Monday! The Kelley House Museum is now open Thursday – Monday, 11am – 3pm. The Museum is located at 45007 Albion Street in Mendocino. Call 707-937-5791, email info@kelleyhousemuseum.org or visit https://www.kelleyhousemuseum.org/ for more information.