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M. Bessie DeGraw (Sutherland) devoted her distinguished teaching career to furthering Adventist educational reform. She became part of the progressive program of Edward A. Sutherland early in her career and worked closely with him for the next 60 years, becoming his wife during his last year of life. As a young educator, she became inspired both by Ellen White's calls for educational reform and the educational philosophy and programs of Booker T. Washington and Hollis Burke Frissell.
The school-farm-sanitarium complex called the Nashville Agricultural and Normal Institute, renamed Madison College in 1937, started in 1904 in Madison, Tennessee, 12 miles northeast of Nashville, as a serious application of the educational reforms Ellen White advocated.
Lida Funk Scott, heiress to the Funk & Wagnalls fortune, found a role for herself by investing her money in the advancement of Adventist work in the then-underprivileged Southeastern United States. She became a devoted follower of Edward A. Sutherland and his work in Madison, Tennessee, and ultimately, due to their need for physicians, gave major financial support to help the struggling young College of Medical Evangelists (now Loma Linda University) attain full Grade A accreditation.
Edward Alexander Sutherland was a teacher, college president, facilitator for the establishment of Adventist-laymen’s Services & Industries (ASI), secretary of the General Conference Commission on Rural Living, organizer of ASI chapters throughout the North American Division, and founder of the school-sanitarium-farm model for Adventist education.