In a 2002 resolution adopted by the Georgia General Assembly, it was stated that George W. "Jack" Strickland "always credited his tremendous success to his dedicated employees and his loyal customers, but his personal leadership, vision, and commitment to the needs of individuals and families have significantly strengthened their opportunities and well-being."
Upon his death in 2010, Strickland's commitment was to ensure that his wife, Muriel Anderson Strickland, was cared for during the remainder of her days, and that was accomplished until she passed away in 2016.
Upon her death, the Stricklands' altruistic nature, even in death, became evident in an even bigger way, as the George W. Strickland Jr. Foundation was created.
A significant gift from the Strickland Foundation was made recently to the Ogeechee Technical College Foundation Inc. in support of education in Evans County. The $500,000 gift will be invested, with proceeds dedicated to providing support for dual enrollment efforts in Evans County.
"Move On When Ready" is the moniker given to the state's high school dual enrollment initiative, which is designed to offer high school students the opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school. Ogeechee Tech offers classes to high school students in Evans County, as well as at its main campus in Statesboro, in addition to several other high schools in the area.
"Our plans are to provide someone who will become a coach to students, to encourage them to make good choices in high school regarding their path to a good career," said Lori Durden, president of Ogeechee Tech. "Often, something like completing federal financial aid forms can be daunting to students and their parents, but it is a necessary step in transitioning to college. We want to provide someone who will be able to assist with financial aid applications, career counseling, and with other necessary processes as well."
Wendell Godbee, the long-time accountant for the Stricklands and president and treasurer of the Strickland Foundation, said: "Jack always wanted to help the community, and to promote education in any way he could. He realized the importance of giving people opportunities, and this gift will continue his legacy by impacting generations of Evans County residents for years to come."
Other officers of the Strickland Foundation are Tommy Strickland, vice president, and Sharon DeLoach, secretary.
In addition to supporting the high school initiative in Evans County, the gift to the Ogeechee Technical College Foundation will assist in establishing a Heavy Diesel Service Technician program at OTC's Evans Technical Education Complex in Hagan.
"There is a great need for diesel technicians, and we think this new program will be a perfect fit for our Evans campus, since our Commercial Truck Driving program is already located on there," Durden said. Dewey Newton, president of the Ogeechee Technical College Foundation, said: “This is the single largest gift the OTC Foundation has ever received, and we take our responsibility for being good stewards of this gift very seriously. We intend to leverage this gift into many human dividends in Evans County, as more people complete high school, earn a college credential, and get good paying jobs.”