Pat Strickland, 97, will serve as the Grand Marshal of the 48th annual Concord Country Jubilee during the parade set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16. She lived for many years in Concord as she raised her family with her late husband Roger Strickland and was the artist for the Jubilee’s original advertisements featuring American Gothic figures on the front and backs of signs welcoming folks to the festival.
“I was part of a lot of organizations and the church and the Community Club all had their part in the Jubilee each year and everybody contributed,” she said. “Concord was a special place and it was a wonderful place for children to grow up. Being in a small town, they had lots of friends and were able to wander wherever they wanted. It was a special place and a special time and I’m glad my children had the chance to grow up in a small town.”
Pat moved to Concord in 1946 at age 22 from Little Rock, Arkansas when she married Roger Strickland who had served as a Captain in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Little Rock. She moved from a large city with a small family to a small town with family members everywhere. She raised her three children – John Strickland, Sarah Strickland McEnany and Kathy Strickland Rice – in Concord.
While in Concord, she went back to school to get her teaching certificate so she could help in the school system during integration. She taught seventh grade at the school in Concord.
“When I got engaged to Roger, I had no idea what I was getting into. I was a tiny little frog in a great big pond in Little Rock and I came to Concord and all of the sudden I was a big dog. I wasn’t familiar with small town interactions. Roger grew up with friends all up and down the street. He had to go into the Army but he always wanted to come back to Concord – it was his home. He knew everybody in Pike County and Spalding and every place else. I reaped the benefits and pleasures of living for many years in his home place,” she said. “My family was very small. I was an only child and didn’t have a whole lot of close relatives in town. I found out what a big family was like because there was a Strickland family in every house up the street and lots of Strickland families.”
During her years in Concord, she wrote columns for the Journal Reporter, served as secretary for the Garden Club, worked as clerk at Concord Baptist Church, sang in the choir and was a member of the bell choir, served many years on the Pike County Board of Family and Children’s Services, volunteered in adult education programs and enjoyed playing tennis and walking. She also helped found the Pike County Arts Council and the Concord Community Club which created the walking track through the city that was named in honor of her late husband.
“No mere paragraphs of words can describe the graciousness of Pat Strickland. Her physical beauty from years of dancing and tennis, free of destructive devices and her inner peace and faith endear her to many friends. Pat is an example of a life well-lived, with more to come,” said Ann Yearwood in a nomination letter for the Gracious Ladies of Georgia recognition. And Pat was of course honored as a Gracious Lady of Georgia in 1998.
“So many little Georgia towns have all but dried up but Concord is an exception. The reason? Pat and her late husband Roger. They have worked and struggled, created and cajoled lo these five decades to keep Concord alive and well. And they have succeeded greatly,” said Lelia Freeman.
Her husband Roger helped run the R.F. Strickland Company which was established in 1887 after Isaac Strickland’s sons moved his store into the city of Concord after the railroad and depot were established there. The store had originally been outside of what is now Concord in an area called Hardhead but when the railroad came through in 1887, the city of Concord was formed and named after an abandoned church – Concord Primitive Baptist Church – that was torn down to make way for the town. The current R.F. Strickland Building was constructed in 1907 and has been operated by five generations of Stricklands, including current mayor of Concord John Strickland.
She was in a retirement community called Sun City in Bluffton, s.c. for 20 years after her husband Roger died – from 2001 to 2021 – and she recently returned to Concord. She enjoys playing bridge and is looking for a local group of ladies to join in the community.
“The Strickland Company was a major part of my mother’s life. She did an awful lot for the city of Concord over the years,” said mayor John Strickland. “Mother is looking forward to being Grand Marshall and she has written to all her friends in Sun City and Bluffton, S.C. to let them know about it.”
She will be riding in a 1928 Ford in this year’s Concord Country Jubilee parade and hopes to be an active part of the community and Jubilee celebration for many years to come.