1937 – 2024

Hartford “Ron” “Spiffy” Strickland, Jr., passed peacefully on April 3, 2024, at the age of 86 following a brief illness. Ron was born on September 2, 1937, to Hartford and Bessie Strickland in Nash County, North Carolina. A sharecropper’s son and the eldest of eight, he graduated from Rock Ridge High School in Wilson in 1955. Voted “most studious,” he joined the United States Navy at the age of 17.

Ron traveled the world and proudly served in the Navy for 30 years before retiring as a Master Chief Aircraft Maintenance. He “went to sea” countless times, primarily on aircraft carriers-from the USS Yorktown in Vietnam to then modern-era nuclear carriers like the USS Nimitz. A true patriot, he spent another 15 years serving the Navy through the civil service.

Ron was survived by his loving partner, Mary Ann Benton, sons Dennis (Sharon), Craig (Patricia), and James Strickland, daughters Kelly Hicks and Terri (Ken) Parker, brothers Ray, Rayford, Dick and Jerry, sisters Brenda Warren and Connie Perry, grandchildren J.J., Loren, Jordan, Shannon, Morgan, Taylor, Alexandra, Sarah, and Hannah, and great-grandchildren Ronin Baez and Philip Derringer. A testament to his military service, all three of Ron’s sons and three of his grandchildren (Loren, J.J., and Sarah) also served in the military. He was predeceased by his parents, wife Nancy (Galm) Strickland-who he tirelessly cared for throughout her long fight with Multiple Sclerosis-and sister Linda Lewis.

Stubborn as they come but with a heart of gold, Ron was the caretaker-always doing for others. He was blessed with a large and loving family, and he had an endearing nickname-or two-for everyone. He was a proud father, doting grandfather, and avid gardener who loved sports.
Baseball was his favorite and he was a dedicated, if sometimes raucous, New York Yankees and Gator fan. Favorite memories from his grandchildren include frequent frosty and “bluzzard” runs, riding in “old Betsy” the rickety Dodge Caravan, watching Gator games and old movies in the den, the always-full M&M jar, and Sun Drop soda hauled all the way from North Carolina.

A memorial service and celebration of life will be held at Club Continental, 2143 Astor St., Orange Park, FL, on April 5, 2024 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. A private inurnment will be held at a later date where Ron will receive full military honors. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the North
Florida Chapter of the MS Society or Community Hospice Center.