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Sutherland C. Dows

Sutherland C. Dows, after whom the fine arts complex at Coe College is named was also one of the midwest's best known utility executives.  Sutherland Cook Dows was born in Cedar Rapids on July 3, 1891.  He attended Hill Prep School in Pennsylvania and the old Coe Academy before graduating with honors from Yale University in engineering and business administration (Courier, Jan. '70).

Dows joined Iowa Electric in 1913 and was made general manager in 1919, president in 1941, and chairman of the board in 1961.  In addition to Iowa Electric, Mr. Dows was active in a number of farm and dairy interests and the Central Iowa Telephone Company, which became a part of the General Telephone System. In 1956 he was named to a panel that studied the impact of the peaceful uses of atomic energy, reporting to the joint committee on atomic energy (Courier, April '70).

In Cedar Rapids, Mr. Dows served on the boards of several banks and companies.  He was the third member of his family to serve on the Coe College board of trustees.  He held this position from 1920 until he died on September 22,1969.  He was also a member of the Cornell College board of trustees for 24 years.  In addition, Sutherland C. Dows was a member, officer, or trustee of many professional, civic, hospital, and historical societies.

President Joseph E. McCabe, who was the president of Coe College at the time, said at his funeral that, "for many years he was a friend and colleague in enterprises that ennoble the human spirit.  In another generation, he would have been called a 'Captain of Industry' and that phrase is appropriate" (Courier, April '74).

In his honor and memory, his late wife, Frances, and the children of Sutherland C. Dows gave Coe College $1.5 million dollars for building and equipping a fine arts and little theater complex at Coe College (Courier, April '74).  At that time it was the largest single gift the college had ever received.  There was much controversy of building this building though.  The college decided to tear down the Old Main building so that the fine arts complex could be built.  The college decided to tear down this building because it was in bad condition and would not be feasible to renovate.  Old Main was the oldest building on campus and a lot of students and alumni had good memories from it.  The tearing down of Old Main sparked controversy.  Some alumni, to this day, still have not forgiven the college for tearing down this building that they loved so much.

The beautiful Sutherland C. Dows Fine Arts Center was dedicated in May of 1974 and today is full of activity because of fully developed art and theater departments.  This building is a tribute to a forward-looking businessman and a friend of Cedar Rapids and Coe College.

 
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