FLAT ROCK - Dr. William Herman Strickland, Jr. of Laurel Park and Lake Pointe Landing passed away peacefully on his 84th birthday, January 18, 2014 at the Elizabeth House. He was surrounded by those he loved with all his heart - his children, grandchildren and other family members. He fought heroically during the last year of his life and never complained although he was in constant pain due to his declining health. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of over 60 years, Alice Snow Strickland on October 29, 2013.
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Dr. Strickland was born in Benson, NC on January 18, 1930 to the late Virginia and William Strickland. He had one brother, Riley Dan Strickland, who is 2 years younger and still resides in Charlotte. At a very early age the family moved to Lenoir where "Bill" excelled academically and with a perfect pitch had an ear for anything musical. Although he only played the coronet during his high school years, he became very proficient playing the piano which provided him and his family many years of enjoyment. He also very quickly learned to play the hammer dulcimer. After graduating from Lenoir High School at the top of his class, he enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Always the serious student, he even participated with the work study program on campus to help defray his expenses during his father's declining health, and maintained excellent grades.
Upon graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill with honors, he was accepted to the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University. While attending medical school, Bill met and fell in love with one of his father's nurses while he was a patient at Baptist Hospital. After a whirlwind courtship of only 6 months, Bill and Alice exchanged wedding vows on September 29, 1952 in Winston Salem.
After graduating from medical school, Dr. Strickland served his Family Practice residency in Johnson City, Tennessee. Due to the "Doctor-Draft Act" Dr. Strickland enlisted in The United States Air Force and was stationed at Craig Air Force Base in Selma, Alabama where he served as a First Lt. in the Medical Rescue Division. After completing his two year military obligation, he returned home and practiced for a short time in Lenoir. His reputation quickly spread through the medical community and he was recruited in 1958 by the late Dr. B.J. Romeo to join his medical practice in Hendersonville.
With Dr. Strickland's unyielding dedication to his patients sprinkled with his handsome good looks and humble demeanor he soon opened up his own practice. He spent endless hours seeing patients in the office, and then had take rotation duty at Pardee Hospital as well. It was not uncommon for any of the four Strickland children to accompany their father to work so that they would be able to spend time with him. A loyal advocate of the Hippocratic Oath, if his patients couldn't come to them, he made house calls to see them. He eventually invited Dr. Edgar Baker and Dr. David Slawek to join his medical practice. He was equally devoted to the progress and growth of Pardee Hospital, serving as their Chief of Staff, and President of the Medical Society. He was instrumental in obtaining the funding for the Kayden Oncology Center from his dear friend and longtime patient Helen Kayden. He was awarded the Outstanding Service in the field of Medicine by the Pardee Hospital which deeply touched him.
He was member of numerous Medical Societies including the Society of Nuclear Medicine, The Frederick R. Taylor Society of the History of Medicine, The Southern Medical Association, The American Academy of General Practice, A Diplomat of the American Board of Family Practice, A Fellow in the American Academy of Family Physicians and a Life Member of the North Carolina Medical Society. He was in the Grand Chapter of the Phi Chi Medical Fraternity, was a Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Theta Sigma, honored in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, and received the Evan J. Carey Memorial Award in Anatomy.
He also served on numerous boards in Hendersonville including the Bank of North Carolina, Nations Bank, the Henderson County Health Department as well as serving as a founding member of the Board of Directors of what is now the Blue Ridge Community Health Services. He was a member of the Rotary Club of Hendersonville and an active member of the Hendersonville Country Club as well as the Hendersonville Cotillion Club and was a member of First United Methodist Church of Hendersonville.
Dr. Strickland with his wife, Alice, by his side were two of the first people from the medical community alongside his dear friend, Dr. William Lampley to arrive at the scene of the deadly collision in 1967 near the Asheville Airport of a commercial airplane and a small private plane in mid air. Whenever he spoke of the incident the passion in his voice reflecting his compassion to have hoped to have saved more lives and was a testament to his dedication for his fellow man. He finally retired from the medical field in 2006 after 56 years of service to the families of Henderson County.
He is survived by his four children: Donna Strickland Hager and her husband Jim of Jupiter, FL, Keith Strickland and his wife Marti of Elon , NC, Lynne Strickland as well as Dr. John Strickland and wife Katie all of Hendersonville. His seven grandchildren whom he adored and cherished: Major William Philip Pearsall, USAF and his wife, Jennifer of Bowie, MD, Megan Pearsall Cannone and her husband Captain Anthony James Cannone, USAF of Marlton, NJ, Meredith Brooks Strickland, Margaret Caroline Strickland and Grace McKenzie Strickland all of Elon, Kaitlyn Mabrey Capps and Royster Snow Strickland both of Hendersonville. Dr Strickland is also survived by three great-grandchildren: Rylee Jane and Raegan Lee Pearsall of Bowie, MD and Charles William Cannone, Marlton, NJ.
The family wishes to thank Dr. James J. Caserio for his constant dedication to him during his later years; Dr. Scott Donaldson whom he respected and grew very fond of, Dr. Mike Jones, Dr. David Mackel, Dr. Stuart Glassman, Dr. William Lampley and Dr. Phillip Sellers; all colleagues and longtime friends. His best friends, Dr. and Mrs. John Spengler and Dr. and Mrs. Edgar Baker as well as a special thanks to all the previous members of Dr. Strickland's staff whose dedication contributed to the success and longevity of the practice particularly Jane Ray, Sarah Putnum and the late Ada Nix Osborn, and all the other healthcare staff that cared for Dr. Strickland over the years and most recently assisted him during his most difficult illnesses. The family would like to give recognition to Margaret Suber and Blondie Gash for their kindness shown to their father during the last year. Also, very special thanks to Mrs. Hattie Waters and her late husband Donnie who are considered part of the family and who worked and cared for the Strickland's for over 30 years.
A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. at the Royce Phelps "Bo" Thomas Auditorium on the Blue Ridge Community College Campus with Father H. Alexander Viola officiating. A reception will be held immediately following the service. The family will receive friends from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Friday, January 31, 2014 at Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Blue Ridge Humane Society, Ph. 828-692-8374, 1214 Greenville Highway, 28792, blueridgehumane.org in the name of Dr. and Mrs. William H. Strickland, Jr.
An online register book is available for family and friends by visiting www.thosshepherd.com. Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors and Cremation Memorial Center is in charge of arrangements.
Published in The Times-News from Jan. 27 to Jan. 28, 2014