Donald Lee Strickland, 1928-2020
Not many people have gotten to enjoy such a successful life as Donald Lee Strickland, who passed away peacefully on June 27, at the age of 92. Donald Lee was successful both in the number of years he lived and in the quality of life he lived.
Visitation will be held Tuesday, June 30, at 9 a.m.–8 p.m. at Strickland Funeral Home in Somerville.
The funeral service will be held 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 1, at Strickland Funeral Home in Somerville. Burial will follow in Oaklawn Cemetery.
Donald Lee was talented, kind, generous and friendly and will be best remembered for his optimistic spirit and smile. He never met a stranger and was always ready to help others. He filled each day with life, laughter and love.
Donald Lee was born to Nello Sr. and Ruth Woods Strickland on June 4, 1928. He attended Somerville High School, Blinn College, earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Sam Houston State University and engaged in advanced graduate study at the University of Houston.
He returned to Somerville High School as a coach and in the first faculty meeting, he met his love, Josephine Denham. They married on April 17, 1949 (Easter Sunday) and shared 69 years of marriage. They were both friends and partners. Their unwavering devotion to each other was a powerful testimony to all surrounding them. God did not bless them with children, but they adopted three sons, two daughters, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Survivors include his sister-in-law, Dorothy Strickland of Brenham.
Mr. Strickland is preceded in death by his wife, Jo Strickland; and brother, Nello Jr. Strickland.
Serving as pallbearers will be Tom Wilkinson, Jared Wilkinson, Ben Flencher, Aaron Flencher, Corey Flencher, Josh Flencher and Ryan Flencher.
Donald Lee established leadership in the United Methodist Church, where he filled every position in the conference a layman could, including delegate, General and Jurisdictional Conference of United Methodist Church; lay speaker; Texas Conference lay leader, 1968-1972; chairman, Texas Conference Finance and Administration Committee 1976-1980, 1988-1992; chairman, Texas Conference Council on Ministries; member, Board of Directors and Executive Committee Lakeview Methodist Assembly; chairman, Lakeview Methodist Assembly Endowment Committee; chairman, Lakeview Methodist Assembly 50th Anniversary Celebration; chairman, Board of Directors Methodist Retirement Services; chairman, Texas Conference Delegation to General and Jurisdictional Conference 1984-1992; chairman, South Central Jurisdiction Council on Finance and Administration; member, South Central Jurisdiction Executive Committee; member, South Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy; member, Board of Directors Methodist Home, Waco; member, Investment Committee Methodist Home, Waco; and member, Board and Executive Committee General Council on Ministries.
For more than 50 years Donald Lee served Rotary in many capacities, including president of three local clubs; district governor 1967-68; Rotary International Forum and Assembly moderator 1968-69; sergeant at arms, International Convention 1972; director, Rotary International 1973-75; vice-president, Rotary International 1974-75; chairman, 1980 Rotary International Convention (75th Anniversary); moderator, 1982 International Assembly; National Coordinator, Polio Plus 1985-1988; and moderator, 1988 International Assembly.
Donald Lee developed civic pride serving his community as president, Liberty Chamber of Commerce; chairman, Liberty County Chapter of American Red Cross; vice-president, Three Rivers Council Boy Scouts of America; campaign director, Liberty County March of Dimes; member, Port of Liberty Board; chairman, City of Liberty Planning and Zoning Committee; president, Liberty Independent School District Board of Trustees; chairman, Liberty County Central Appraisal District; member, Board of Directors, Burleson County Chamber of Commerce; trustee (first white person on the board), Philander Smith College; and member, Board of Directors, Gulf Coast Trade Center.
Other positions of service include mayor, City of Somerville; member, Board of Directors Brazos Valley Council of Governments; member, Brazos Valley Council of Governments Executive Committee; secretary, Brazos Valley Council of Governments Board of Directors; chairman, Brazos Valley Council of Governments Audit Committee; chairman, Brazos Valley Council of Governments Sub-Committee for Regional Water Supply; vice-chairman, Brazos Valley Council of Governments Regional Planning Advisory Committee; member, Texas Association of Regional Councils, Legislative and Governor’s Office and Executive Branch Relations Committee; chairman, Texas Municipal League Community and Economic Development Committee; member, Texas Municipal League Telecommunication Committee; member, Texas Attorney General’s Municipal Advisory Committee; and chairman, Lake Somerville Commission.
Donald Lee was a successful businessman who engaged in a variety of interests including public school teacher and administrator for 16 years, former owner of Strickland’s Variety and Gift Stores, owner of Strickland Funeral Homes, director of First Liberty National Bank, owner of Strickland Cattle Company, president of Strickland Investments, Inc. and president of Somerville Investments, LLC.
At the end of all his speeches, Donald Lee closed with “An Old Irish Blessing: May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face and the rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand.”
Donald Lee’s greatest love was his Lord first, Jo second and family and friends third. He always said, “I’m a member of all the civic, church, professional and education boards, but the one thing I belong to is the Lord.”
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Lakeview Methodist Encampment (designated to Strickland Endowment), 400 Private Road 6036, Palestine, TX 75801 or Methodist Children’s Home, 1111 Herring Ave., Waco, TX 76708, Blinn Foundation, or to a charity of your choice.
Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Strickland Funeral Home in Somerville, 979-596-2133. To post a tribute to the family, visit www.stricklandfuneralhomes.com.