SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Dr. Jessie Shields Strickland, passed on Saturday, September 14, 2013, after an illness of cancer. Born in Wytheville, Virginia, November 30, 1948, to the late Samuel William Shields and Lena Pearman Shields, Jessie moved with family to Elizabethton, Tennessee. She was preceded in death by her brother, Samuel "Sammy" Shields; two sisters, Patricia Shields Lipford and Pamela Shields Broome. Dr. Jessie was a member of Wilmington Island United Methodist Church, Savannah, Georgia.
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Dr. Strickland served on the administrative board at the First United Methodist Church in Statesboro, Ga. She had been one of the first deaconesses at the Downtown Christian Church, Johnson City, Tennessee, and served numerous years as a Sunday school teacher at the Valley Forge Christian Church and the Powder Branch Christian Church, both in Tennessee.
Dr. Jessie is survived by her husband of 39 years, Robert "Bob" Strickland; a daughter and son-in-law, "Jenna" Elizabeth Harkleroad and Marion Gray Harkleroad Jr.; and three grandsons, Marion "Gray" Harkleroad III, Caleb Harkleroad and Tristan G. Harkleroad, all of Savannah. Dr. Jessie is also survived by a beloved sister and brother-in-law, Sonya and Edwin C. Alexander III. Her surviving nieces and nephews are Lisa and John Pilkington, Erwin, Tenn., Stephanie and Kenneth Nave, Elizabethton, Tenn., Amelia G. Trotter, Gray, Tenn., and Isaiah A. Broome, Elizabethton, Tenn., Joshua A. Trotter, Denver, Colo., Amanda and Brian Kincaid, Knoxville, Tenn., Lauren and Dr. Dustin Barrett, Johnson City, Tenn.; along with great-nieces and nephews, Mathew Craig and Conner Alysha Nave, Ava and Emme Kincaid, Caroline Alexander Barrett, Autumn Broome and McKenna Kaiser. Several cousins additionally survive, Maxie June Fox English, Gerri Shields Hampton, Ed Nuchols, Betty Nuchols, Bob Shields and Charlotte Pearman. Special sister-in-law, Iris Strickland Johnson, survives.
Several special friends are remembered for additional love, caring and support during Dr. Jessie's illness: Connie Lynn Meade, Jan Martin, Ervin and Dianne Stewart, John and Dr. Charlene Lamar, Ford and Nanette Baskin, Judy Curly, Peggy Chapman, Cheryl Spikes, Jerry and Linda Porter, Annie Ayers Reynolds, Dick and Ruth Ann Leonard, Jerome, Becky and Mary A. Rogers, Betty Lacy, Peggy Burns, Jeanne Roddy, Dennis and Suzanne Berry, Kathy and Dr. Danny Smith, Julie Thigpen, Mary Nell and Jimmy Cartee, Susan Turrentine Smith, Pat and Joy Sweeney, Becky Brummit, Pam Ornduff, Sharen Brown, Gary and Vivian Rose Cooper, Connie Hendrix, Jessica Sanders, Wayne and Janice Murray, Dave and Deanna Rider, Teresa Bulloch Dugger, Victor and Jet Tetrault and Dr. Joy Collins.
Graduating with BS, MA and Ed.D. from East Tennessee State University, Dr. Jessie led a fulfilling life serving children in different capacities. She was an educator for 43 years, serving as a teacher in Carter County, Elizabethton City, Kingsport, Tenn., Statesboro, Ga., and Claxton, Ga. Her other educational experiences were being the Tennessee Language Arts specialist, Bulloch County, Ga., school superintendent, Elizabethton school superintendent (becoming the first female superintendent in both districts), assistant professor in school law and leadership theory at Georgia Southern University, supervisor of Instruction and vice president for Academic Affairs at Ogeechee Technical College, and, one of the most rewarding positions, a reading specialist at Claxton High School, Claxton, Ga.
Dr. Strickland was a past president of the Elizabethton Civitan Club and a Paul Harris Award recipient from Statesboro Harris Rotary Club. She had been an officer and member of Alpha Delta Kappa Honorary Sorority in Elizabethton.
Dr. Jessie had numerous recognitions from state, national and international arenas. She was a Tennessee teacher finalist of the year, Tennessee Superintendent of the Year, Georgia Retired Educator Award of Distinction, Statesboro Professional Woman of Achievement, Carter County Female Citizen of the Year, East Tennessee State University's Alumni Award of Honor and a Distinguished Alumni. She internationally and nationally published professional articles, history textbooks for Oklahoma, California and Tennessee, English textbooks for vocational education in Tennessee and has co-authored a book of antidotal humor, "Growing Up Country and Liking It!" and a 2012 nationally published novel, "New River Summers." She was appointed to the national textbook advisory board of McMillan-McGraw Hill.
Family and friends will welcome others to a memorial celebration of life for Dr. Jessie at 2 p.m., Sunday, September 22, 2013, at Wilmington Island United Methodist Church in Savannah.
It was Dr. Jessie's wish that after the memorial, everyone bring a covered dish for a light meal in the fellowship hall of the church to continue remembering and celebrating her life.
Remembrances: In lieu of flowers, Dr. Jessie requested contributions toward the education of an Elizabethton, Tenn., English student through the Jessie Strickland Endowment Scholarship at East Tennessee State University-The Claudius G. Clemmer College of Education, P.O. Box 70721, Johnson City, TN 37614; or the Elizabethton Tennessee Stadium and Field Alexander Project, c/o The Elizabethton City Schools Board of Education, 804 South Watauga Avenue, Elizabethton, TN 37643.
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Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Islands Chapel, Savannah, Georgia.
Statesboro Herald, September 18, 2013
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Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors
4605 E Highway 80
Savannah, GA 31410
Published in Statesboro Herald from Sept. 18 to Sept. 25, 2013