In Loving Memory of William Strickland
William Jerome Strickland was born on March 9, 1935 in the Argentine area of Kansas City, Kansas to the union of Roosevelt and Mable Strickland. While he was the fourth child in birth order, he was certainly the biggest, entering the earth at a whopping 15 lbs. Birth records were not tracked in the same manner as today, but legend has it that he held a county or state record for many decades. He was baptized at a young age at Second Baptist Church in Argentine, KS. Although his career eventually took him to Illinois, Kansas City has always been his home. He is proceeded in death by his parents, sister Opal Mae, and brother Edward “Baby Brother”.
His formal education began as a student at Lincoln Elementary School and he became an alumnus of Sumner High School with the class of 1953. He then matriculated to the University of Kansas. While at KU, he was part of the first inductees of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, a member of the bowling team and active in the research lab. Trying to provide financial assistance to his family and to complete his educational pursuits, William inadvertently dropped his classes to part-time status. As a consequence, he was drafted into the United States Air Force before graduation. The Air Force landed him at the Nuclear Effects Research Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He often jokes that most of his time was spent playing football for the service, alongside many future pro athletes. After serving his country, and over a decade after he began, William completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Kansas University. He used his story as an inspiration to younger generations as a lesson in perseverance and commitment.
Interested in applying his mechanical engineering expertise, William moved to Peoria, IL to work on tractor and airplane engines at Caterpillar and Harvester International. He then became the first African American franchise owner of Midas Muffler, eventually owning four locations around Chicago and Gary. As fate would have it, he met his future wife at one of his shops. After overhearing a manager pretending to be the owner as a ploy to attract Yvette, William quickly intervened and set the record straight. They married in 1970 and together had one child, Joy. Family recalls he became a different person when Yvette entered his life, that of a gentle giant. She preceded him in death in 1985. He later formed a special relationship with Joanne Collins that has lasted over twenty years. Together they traveled the US and forged an intergenerational relationship between families that remains strong today.
Despite all of his accomplishments and experiences, along with trials and tribulations along the way, none of it mattered if he could not do it for, or with his family and close friends.
William Strickland leaves to cherish his memory, a daughter: Joy (Darnell), three grandchildren: Kiela, Jeremy and Jarrett, Special Friend: Joanne, three siblings: James (Deanna), Joseph, and Mary, a sister-in-law: Delores, and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.