It is with deep sorrow that we share the news that Jerry Strickland, one of the incredible heroes featured in Rock Bottom and Back—From Desperation to Inspiration, passed away Wednesday, Feb. 1. 2017. Since 2008, Jerry has successfully battled idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that inhibits the lungs from performing correctly. His courage, strength, and determination throughout this struggle are a testament to the life he lived.
Helen Keller once said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
This sentiment epitomizes Jerry’s life. Like everyone, he experienced trials, but Jerry always turned his trials into triumphs, his suffering into easing the pain of someone else. With great vision, Jerry inspired his family, friends, and even those he had never met to become better people. Through his success, he helped others to succeed.
The son of Gladys and Joe Strickland, Jerry learned at an early age the value of working hard to earn a dollar. He used the lessons he gleaned from his parents to eventually make a name for himself in the oil industry. An astute businessman, who built his company, AltairStrickland, from the ground up, Jerry dedicated himself to earning enough money to ensure that his children and grandchildren would never know the humiliation he had once experienced when his family could not afford to buy groceries.
After achieving his goals and marrying his soulmate, Linda, Jerry rededicated his life to bettering the lives of others through The Linda and Jerry Strickland Family Foundation; Camp Aranzazu, a 70-acre camp for disabled children located in Rockport, Texas; Extra Special People, a camp for children on dialysis located in Athens, Georgia; Out Youth organization in Austin, Texas; and a plethora of other organizations.
His motto throughout his life has always been to pay it forward. “Everything means something,” he once said. “If you throw a rock into a stream, the rock will sink to the bottom, but the ripples will keep flowing. It only takes one person to start a chain reaction.”
Jerry was that person who started a chain reaction. His big heart, his limitless generosity, and his love for his fellow man were traits he instilled into his four children and 13 grandchildren. Although his time here was much too short, the legacy of goodness he created will last for generations to come.
Jerry Strickland was a great man. His was a life well lived. It has been our honor and privilege to know him.