The art of the obituary: Donald Strickland

“I think this send-off for a man who was a coach at my high school when I was there 50+ years ago may fit what you’ve described you like in obituaries,” Ken Bearman said in his e-mail forwarding the obituary of Donovan Clyde Strickland.

He’s right. A good obit makes you sad you missed out on meeting a person.

It appeared over the weekend in the Star Tribune.

stricklandStrickland, Donovan Clyde age 84, of Saint Louis Park, checked out on August 30, 2016. Don was a man of impeccable integrity. He was low maintenance (understatement) and idiosyncratically resourceful (think double-stick velcro, duct tape and singular boat- and home-improvement projects). Don was kind and uniquely good at connecting with other people, no matter who or where they were. He was interested in what everyone else had to say, and certainly felt like everyone else should be interested in what he had to say. This most likely grew out of his many years spent as a teacher, coach, administrator and Athletic Director in the Minneapolis Public Schools.

After retiring, Don enjoyed traveling and hiking throughout the U.S. and Canada with his wife and constant companion of 58 years, Lois Hope Strickland, who checked out first, in 2014. Her departure was preceded by their son, David Charles Strickland.

Golf was Don’s religion. He bogeyed his final 9 holes just a few weeks ago finishing with far fewer strokes than his partner, beloved grandson, Morgan Strickland Shields. No hard feelings and pizza ensued. Don was a fan of the hometown teams and he and his devoted daughter, Debra Strickland Bistodeau, frequently donned logoed gear and headed out to cheer them ALL on. Many beers, brats and Bloody Marys were consumed. A few party buses ridden.

Don liked his martinis in a chilled glass, his salsa extra hot and his mystery novels thick. He didn’t have time for games, hypocrites, people who don’t follow the rules or read the directions. He valued authenticity and sought it in all of his friends and relationships. He proudly served in the Marine Corps as an officer during the Korean War.

To say that Don was organized is also an understatement. In fact it’s surprising he hadn’t written and prepaid his obituary. It is perhaps, the only thing he ever left undone. A celebration of Don’s life is being planned. Please e-mail ‘’ if you would like to attend. Many beers, brats and Bloody Marys will be consumed.

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