Winston “Strick” MacArthur Strickland, who died Tuesday night at 70 years old after a five-year battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease, will be remembered by friends and family this Friday and Saturday.
The family visitation is scheduled for Friday at Mack Eppinger and Sons Funeral Home in Cartersville between 6 and 8 p.m. The service will be at Turner Chapel AME in Marietta at noon on Saturday.
Strickland lived in Cartersville but has been a fixture in Marietta since the 1960s when he established S&M Enterprises, which encompasses Strick’s Barber Shop, Strick’s Grill and S&M Laundromat, off Lemon Street near downtown Marietta.
The restaurant has been closed for about two years now.
“He just loved life, and I think he really worked to make a difference,” said Michele Strickland of Smyrna, his youngest daughter. “He loved God first, he absolutely loved his family and he loved his community.”
He was born the son of a sharecropper in Paulding County and named after British politician Winston Churchill and U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
“They loved politics and focused on making a difference and improving social problems,” Michele Strickland said. “That speaks to a lot of what my dad focused on and did in his life. He embodied that.”
Winston Strickland moved with his family to Bartow County in 1954, graduated from Brown Barber College in Atlanta in 1962 and shortly thereafter moved to Marietta.
Michele Strickland said her father had an affinity for the ocean and joking around.
“When my dad was in the water, he said he simply felt free,” she said. “He was also the biggest jokester … he always got a kick out of himself — sometimes at his expense.”
She also said she’ll forever remember her father being the “funniest” dancer and loving Motown music.
“We called it the chicken dance. You’d have to see it to know it. It was his signature dance,” she said with a laugh. “Al Green was one of his favorite (artists).”
From the community’s perspective, Winston Strickland exemplified a “servant leader,” insurance agent Don Johnson said.
“He enjoyed serving all citizens, but he was really passionate about the youth and senior citizens,” he said.
Johnson, 63, has known Strickland for about 27 years and started Blacks United for Youth-Cobb with him about 22 years ago.
“He was a visionary,” said Johnson, who last saw Strickland on Friday. “He was my mentor and friend. We had a very special relationship. There wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him. He was a quiet giant.”
BUY-Cobb, a youth leadership and mentor program, has contributed more than $300,000 in scholarships to youth in Cobb, Cherokee and Paulding counties and helped more than 2,000 students in Cobb alone.
Clarence Pennie, who owns and operates MG Systems Inc. in Kennesaw, met Strickland after moving to Georgia from Dallas, Texas, in 1986.
“He helped me when I decided to leave corporate America and start my own business in 1997,” Pennie said. “Strick would help anybody. That guy could make stuff happen just based on relationships. He built strong bridges of trust between county government and the community.”
Attorney Nathan Wade said Strickland is like his godfather and that he’s known him since moving to Georgia nearly 20 years ago.
“He was one of the first people I met upon coming here to Georgia, and he was very instrumental in my development both as a young man and as a young attorney,” Wade said. “He taught me personally, politically, socially and spiritually.”
Now 39, Wade recalled the first time he ever met Strickland.
“I was in law school and I was selected as an intern in the prosecutor’s office here in Cobb,” he said. “He had gotten wind that there was a young African American intern here in the Cobb County office and he wanted to meet me.”
Wade said he’ll always remember Strickland for being what he calls a “constant politician” who “lived, breathed and ate” politics and for his sayings like, “The answer is not always in a book,” and “Do the right thing, live right and treat people right and good things will come to you.”
He last saw his friend just before Thanksgiving.
“That’s time that I’ll cherish because it was the last little bit of time that I had with him,” Wade said. “He just meant a lot to me.”
Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes met Strickland for the first time about 35 years ago when Joe Frank Harris of Cartersville was running for state governor.
“There’s nobody that I’m closer to than Winston Strickland,” Barnes said Wednesday. “He’s like my brother, and I’m just so sorry about his death. He helped so many people … he’s one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever known.”
Barnes had planned on going to visit him Saturday.
“The things that he has done for me … I couldn’t name them all,” he said. “Almost every morning back when he was active and especially on Saturday mornings … we would have coffee and eat sausage biscuits together.”
The late barber also served as president of the National Association of Barber Boards of American and inducted into their Hall of Fame, served on the board of the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce and New Frontier of Bartow County Inc., is an emeritus member of the St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church steward board and helped establish the First Southern Bank in Lithonia.
In a 2009 interview with the Journal, Strickland said he was a self-made man, but was blessed to have a lot of people counsel him to keep him moving in the right direction.
“My mother taught me that you work hard, treat people right and when you find something’s wrong, you straighten it out,” he said. “Do good in anything that you put your hand into, and in the meantime you’ve got to give back to the community.”
Winston Strickland is also survived by his wife of 47 years, Rosetta Strickland; oldest daughter, Monique Strickland Hall of Carterville; Michele Strickland, and two grandchildren, Jaden MacArthur Hall, 15, and Janai Hall, 8.