Former Georgia governor and longtime friend of Strickland, Roy Barnes, received the inaugural Winston Strickland Servant Leadership Award during the chamber’s First Monday Breakfast. The award was established to recognize a person who, like Strickland, lives a life of service to family and community.
“I’m very seldom surprised, but I am surprised by this morning,” Barnes said Monday upon his receiving the award, which was presented with a standing round of applause by those in attendance.
Barnes had known Strickland, who was fondly called “Strick” by friends and family, for 35 years. He died last November at age 70 after a five-year battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Strickland lived in Cartersville but had been a fixture in Marietta since the 1960s. He started 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 three years now.
Barnes talked briefly about his dear friend and told a story about how they used to enjoy coffee and biscuits just about every morning while they talked about the day’s business and would try to “solve all the problems of the world.”
“He wanted to leave this place better than he found it and he did,” Barnes said in closing. “I miss him so.”
The honor was presented by another close friend of Strickland’s, state Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham.
“Strick was a true servant who modeled service in every aspect of his life,” Benham said to a crowd of about 400 people as he presented the award to Barnes. “Just like (Strickland), the man we are honoring today is a humbled servant, working tirelessly for the betterment of Cobb County, this community, the nation and the people he loves.”
Strickland’s wife of 47 years, Rosetta Strickland, and his two daughters, Smyrna resident Michele Strickland and Monique Strickland Hall of Cartersville, were also present for the recognition.
“We are moved, we are humbled,” Michele Strickland said afterward. “We always knew that we shared him with the Cobb County community. It is difficult to think that it’s almost been a year since we lost him but his memory still remains, so he is still here because of his memory.”
Rosetta Strickland said Monday’s presentation reaffirms her late husband’s hard work in the community and an old spiritual that he used to sing around their home.
“If I can help somebody, as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody, with a word or song, if I can show somebody, how they’re traveling wrong, then my living shall not be in vain,” she said.
Also at the breakfast, John Stephenson Jr., president and CEO of the College Football Hall of Fame, gave a brief overview of the planning and development behind the downtown Atlanta location, and the United Way of Cobb County announced the kick off of its 2013 campaign.
To learn more about the College Hall of Fame, which is scheduled to be open in 2014, visit cfbhall.com, and additional information about the local United Way campaign can be found at unitedwayatlanta.org/co-cobb.html.
The next First Monday Breakfast will be Oct. 7. It will be a “Salute to Public Safety” and the guest speaker will be former University of Georgia head football coach Vince Dooley.