NEWCASTLE – Robert Charles Sutherland Sr. rode motorcycles for 40 years, so he was doing what came naturally when he hopped on his bike early Saturday for the trip from his home in Newcastle to his job at the Maine State Prison in Warren.

Shortly after he left the house, the motorcycle inexplicably went off the road, and Mr. Sutherland died from his injuries. He was 55.

“My husband started riding a dirt bike when he was 13 years old. At 16, he was driving a motorcycle. He owned a motorcycle before he owned a car,” said his wife, Diane Lambert Sutherland.

Diane Sutherland, who was born and raised in the Biddeford and Old Orchard Beach area, moved to Connecticut when she was 11 years old. She met her husband-to-be two years later at a Connecticut middle school.

“He was older than I was,” she said. “But that is when I fell in love.”

After his mother died, Mr. Sutherland left school to join the Army.

He logged six years of active-duty service, followed by another six years in the Army Reserve.

The Sutherlands were married in 1973 — a marriage that lasted nearly 37 years. The couple had three children.

In 1981, the Sutherlands moved to Maine, settling in the coastal fishing village of Friendship.

“We had friends living in the area, and that is where we decided to raise our kids,” Diane Sutherland said.

They eventually left Friendship for Waldoboro, where they lived for 25 years.

More recently, they built a new home on Damariscotta Lake in Newcastle.

“He loved to sit and watch the wildlife on the lake. We saw eagles, geese and beaver,” his wife said.

Mr. Sutherland worked in management for Stinson Seafood for a number of years, serving as the plant manager at Stinson’s Bath and Belfast’s plants.

When the Belfast plant shut down, Mr. Sutherland went to work for Maine Frozen Food in Caribou for a year.

In 2007, he became a corrections officer at the Maine State Prison.

“He loved working at the prison,” his wife said. “He wanted to do something that didn’t involve management. He just wanted to be able to do his job and come home. I think he was content working at the prison.”

He often worked 12-hour shifts, starting at 6 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m.

“He was on his way to work when he went off the road,” his wife said. “It was 5 a.m., and he was about one mile from our house.”

Mr. Sutherland’s three brothers, Kenneth, William and Roger, all live in Connecticut. And they all ride bikes.

Mr. Sutherland and his brothers spent Memorial Day weekend touring the state on their motorcycles. “They rode from sunup to sundown and enjoyed every second on their bikes,” according to his obituary.

His wife said the brothers were planning a cross-country motorcycle trek on Labor Day. Their plan was to head toward Pennsylvania and keeping driving west for as far as they could get.

“It was their vacation,” Mrs. Sutherland said. “They were going to just keep going until they could go no farther.” 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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