Avis de décès

Joan Oren Strickler

10 septembre 193629 février 2024
Nécrologie de Joan Oren Strickler
Joan Oren Strickler, a former resident of Harrisonburg, VA, died peacefully on February 29, 2024 in Gaithersburg, MD surrounded by her three daughters. Joan’s life was powered by a fierce intellect, a profound devotion to family and close friends, her enduring Christian faith, a love of nature, and an abiding delight in connecting with people from geographies and cultures different from her own. Born on September 10, 1936 in Oakland, California, she moved nearly every year of her childhood, crisscrossing the country as the daughter of a U.S. Coast Guard officer, living in California, Maryland, Louisiana, Connecticut and Virginia. In Glen Burnie, Maryland she was her high school’s valedictorian. At William and Mary, she was number two in the class of 1958. She declined a coveted Harry S. Truman scholarship for graduate study and instead married Luther Warren Strickler II, who was soon ordained as a Lutheran minister. As a young wife and mother, Joan found other outlets for her intellectual acumen, such as joining a women’s club where members presented academic papers to each other and being a rigorous editor of her daughters’ essays. A dogged genealogist with a historian’s attention to source and accuracy, she enjoyed tracing and documenting her family’s roots to England and her husband’s throughout the Shenandoah Valley and editing the diaries of several ancestors and relatives. A lover of nature, Joan led her family through marsh and mountain for birding walks and camping excursions. She taught her family to notice little clues of life in the woods. She never went on trips without her binoculars and a book about the local region’s birds and sought out wildlife refuges to see whooping cranes and brants and cormorants. She could easily identify dozens of birds by their songs and delighted in seeing notable birds in Arizona, Texas, Rwanda, the Blue Ridge Mountains, England, California, and Jamaica, to name a few. She was a great believer in taking a different road home so that you’d see new things on the way back. Joan and Warren married in 1958 and moved to Lexington, Virginia to start a mission church, Good Shepherd. Subsequent ministries led the family to campus ministry at Rutgers University at the height of the Vietnam War, Ithaca, NY, Richmond, VA and Kearny NJ. After two decades working to raise her girls and support her husband’s ministry, Joan found her vocational passion outside the home as a professional in the Girl Scouts, engaging girls of all cultures and backgrounds in camping, cultural trips and leadership training at Girl Scout Councils in Virginia and New Jersey. Later, she delighted in being the Director of Admissions for Rutgers University’s Business School. She provided special welcome and wise counsel to the program’s international students, whom she regularly hosted at her home for delicious meals and great stories. Representing the school domestically and internationally, she relished travel to Tokyo, Hong Kong, and California. While working full time, she earned her MA in Liberal Studies at the age of 56. In 1993, Joan and Warren retired to Harrisonburg, Virginia where she applied her community leadership talents to direct the community’s First Night Celebration, an alcohol free, family-focused event for over a thousand people that celebrated local music, culture and food topped off by fireworks at the stroke of midnight. During this time, she also became deeply involved in welcoming refugee families to the Shenandoah Valley and guided them through the many challenges they faced upon arrival. Joan was a loyal and steadfast friend. She and her British pen-pal Shirley were friends for 76 years. Many friends and family sought her wise counsel. She was a trusted confidant and rock for those who felt unmoored or unsure. Joan and Warren regularly welcomed refugees, foreign visitors, graduate students, unhoused persons, ex-convicts and neighbors at their table, teaching their family to do the same. Whether for special guests or weeknight family dinners, Joan was an endlessly creative and masterful cook. She set the table with candles and cloth, instilling a sense that the dinner table was sacred space. Joan was a force—of intellect, will, creativity, generosity and compassion, for good and kindness. The palpable loss of her power and presence; her wit and empathy; nourishing meals and conversations with her; her love and guidance will be profoundly missed. She is survived by her daughters Robin Strickler (John Rutsindintwarane), Alison Strickler (Aana Vigen), and Laura Strickler (Romesh Ratnesar); five grandchildren: Maria Murerwa, Jenny Mutesi, Benjamin Strickler and Zeke and Virginia Ratnesar; and one great grandchild, Wyatt Baber. She is survived by her brother Jerry Oren and was pre-deceased by her parents Rear Admiral John B. Oren and Virginia Prentis Oren. A memorial service will be held at Muhlenberg Lutheran Church, 281 E. Market St., Harrisonburg, on May 4 at 1 p.m. Donations in Joan Strickler’s memory may be made to the Rwanda School Project at rwandaschoolproject.org.

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