For your first Names and Faces story of the 2010, we meet a man who has proven that nice guys really can finish first. He's Somerville's own Don Strickland and he's truly a southern gentleman who has gained the respect of all who meet him.
Don Strickland has prospered in his community and he'll tell you that living in a small town has many benefits. As for those who live in the town he loves, they all say that it's been a blessing to have Mr. Strickland in their midst's and it's easy to see why his good heart and helping nature have made him one of the nicest people you will ever meet.
Strickland says, "I've always wanted to be a friend to everyone and if I have any qualities is the fact that I know everybody and if don't know them, I try to meet them and I always try to think positive and not negative about that and so I don't pass many people as I speak to them whether I know them or not and I think that's very very important in what I do and how I do it."
It's a simple formula, but it's one that's worked for Don Strickland all his life. For him, being a nice guy is an understatement because nice is what has earned this special man the respect and admiration of all who meet him. By being in the funeral business, he's shared some difficult times with his friends and neighbors, but he's also been there to share the good times too. Add to that his eagerness to serve and you have a dedicated public servant.
Longtime friend, Ben Flencher says, "When you think of a small town person that's gone on and made some head-ways in the world, he's not only taken Somerville as a mayor and councilman he's been affiliated with the Brazos Valley COG, he's been affiliated with the Methodist Church, a youth organization in New Waverly, he's on the boards of Methodist organizations nationally as well as he's an international rotary director so everybody that has that dream of being from a small town and living in a small community isn't wondering if they have the make up to do more, he's proven it."
With his work to help disadvantage children, he's also proven that he's committed to the areas youth.
"Our children, that's our future and we need to spend everything that we can, our energy, our monies or everything that we do for the youth," says Strickland.
With Jo, his wife and best friend of 60 years by his side, together they work to positively touch and impact the lives of children they reach out to and all the while, Don has never forgotten one not so little fact, "any success that I've had has been due to her, I can tell you that for sure."
As for why he volunteers, Don Strickland says it's something to do, "I don't have any hobbies; I guess people happen to be my hobby I would say. I do have a lot of fun in doing all of that."
On the subject of retirement, Strickland says that's one subject his not contemplating, "No, no, no, no I can't. I've tried it a month or two, but it didn't work, so I don't think that I'd ever retire."
And you can bet that warms the hearts of those who work with him because after all, it's nice just having him around, but when he thinks about the future, Don doesn't want to be remembered for his good deeds, he wants people to remember his big heart.
Strickland says he would rather have people say, "he's a fellow that cared about people and that wanted to help them anyway that he could in particularly in the times that they needed help I would like for them to say, well he was a fellow that really cared about people and tried to help them."
What Strickland doesn't know is that Flencher and the his friends already consider him, "a man of vision by who his own commitment has inspired others."
Lately Don Strickland has been a bit under the weather, but once he's made a full recovery, you can bet he'll be out and about doing his good deeds and helping the people Somerville and the Brazos Valley who he loves and who love him.