“He was a friendly, real considerate person,” said Arthur Carter, a friend of Strickland’s for the past 40 years. “He was a person that always had a pleasant expression, a pleasant personality. He’s a person that was concerned about other people. He’s a kind, generous person, really. He had come from down low, like most of us have, but he managed to keep the right focus in life. And he was a prosperous man in his own right, by his own means, really.
“The community as a whole — that goes for the Bartow County and Cobb County community — is really going to miss [this] real faithful county member, family member [and] church member. He’s a person that has really contributed a lot to both communities and he’ll be missed in both communities.”
Since the mid-1960s, Strickland owned and operated S & M Enterprises — encompassing Strick’s Barber Shop, Strick’s Grill and S & M Laundromat — in Marietta. A barber for about 50 years, he previously chaired the Georgia State Board of Barbers for 27 years, was president of the National Association of Barber Boards of America and was inducted into the NABBA Hall of Fame.
About 17 years ago, Strickland founded Blacks United for Youth in Cobb, an organization that fosters youth and has provided more than $400,000 in college scholarships.
In Bartow County, Strickland also was well-known, with some of his contributions including, supporting the New Frontier of Bartow County Inc., and being a member of the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Foundation; emeritus member of the steward board for St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church; former board member of the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce; and chairman of the Summer Hill Heritage Committee, which secured funding for a statue of former Summer Hill educators James S. and Beatrice Morgan in 2006.
In 2010, Strickland’s contributions were recognized during the 21st annual Unsung Heroes Banquet, which was sponsored by the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Foundation. Over the past 30 years, he was an instrumental member of the foundation, having helped raise funds to restore the Noble Hill building in the mid-1980s.
Backed by funds from the late Julius Rosenwald — a philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck and Co., who wanted to provide quality education for African-American children — and the Cassville community, Noble Hill served as an educational site from the 1920s to 1955. Now known as Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, the venue at 2361 Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cassville is a cultural museum that reveals what life was like for African-American residents since the late 1800s.
“He was a successful entrepreneur and he was a philanthropist and he influenced lives across both Bartow County and Cobb County,” said Marian Coleman, curator for Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center. “... He was in that first group of original trustee board members [for Noble Hill]. He and some others during that time, when they were first getting it started, donated $500. We had different families that donated $500 to get some things that needed to be done, especially in the kitchen part of the school. And he also was able to help us get money to get other things that we needed for the school.
“He was always a people person and he loved working with youth. The ones that honored him at the banquet, they spoke about his character [saying he was] always caring. They could always depend on him. There was one man there that talked about how his wife was sick and how Winston came and sat with him at the hospital during the time she was ill. All of them had this to say about him — how he cared for other people and he put them first. I would say he was a servant of his fellow man, a true living legend of our day.”
Prior to the Unsung Heroes Banquet, Strickland emphasized the importance of helping others, especially area youth.
“I think that [from] a childhood perspective I look at it as the values that my mother and daddy put in me,” Strickland told The Daily Tribune News in 2010. “My dad was a Baptist preacher and he put in me the love and spirit of serving.
“I never thought that somebody would reach out and want to honor me but in the meantime I must have touched somebody’s life. ... [To me, volunteering is] so important. You can read a book all you want to but what really impacts young folks is the success that helps them develop skills. They’ll look at you [and] at your skills. A lot of people just like to talk but what you demonstrate, it will make a difference in children’s lives and it’s meat on the bones.”
A visitation will be held Friday, Nov. 30, at Mack Eppinger & Sons, 210 N. Bartow St., Cartersville from 6 to 8 p.m. The funeral service will be held Saturday, Dec. 1, at noon at the Cathedral of Turner Chapel A.M.E. Church, 492 N. Marietta Parkway, Marietta.