James Shive Strickland

November 18, 1929October 16, 2020

James Shive Strickland, age 90, passed away quietly at home at Freedom Village in Holland, MI on Friday October 16, 2020.

James was born November 19, 1929 in Harrisburg, PA to Frank and Sue Strickland. He was raised in nearby Marietta and attended Franklin and Marshall College, fell in love with a nursing student, Dorothy Ann Cope, and was married. Jim graduated from F and M, and went on to earn a PhD in physics from MIT. Jim and Dot moved to Lexington, MA, where he created educational materials for the teaching of physics from 1960 to 1973. There they also raised a family. The family then moved to Hudsonville, MI where he taught and chaired the physics department at Grand Valley State College, where he remained until his retirement in 1995.

He was very active with family: sons Thomas Strickland (San Antonio, TX), David Strickland (Barbara) (Bixby, OK), and daughter, Karen Strickland (Allendale, MI). He treasured time spent with grandchildren Tiffany Strickland (Corning, NY), and Brandon Strickland (Laura) (Reading, PA), and Rachael Strickland and Alyssa Strickland (Sapulpa, OK); Jim delighted in his great-granddaughter, Zoey Strickland (Reading, PA); Jim also had a sister-in-law, Mary Ann Cope (Reading, PA); along with many nieces and nephews. Jim loved to stay busy even after retiring. He participated in the Science Olympiad held each year at Grand Valley and taught Bridge classes at Freedom Village. He published the in-house newspaper and put on Movie Night for the residents. He was a member of First United Methodist Church and Hope College’s HASP.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents; in-laws; wife, Dorothy; eldest son, Tom; brother, Robert Strickland; and wife, Jean (Bainbridge, PA); as well as his brother-in-law, Dr. David Cope MD (Reading, PA).

There will be no funeral as Jim’s wish was to be cremated, but a private celebration of Jim’s life will take place at a future date. In honor of Jim and in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the MS Society or the International Storytelling Center. The family welcomes memories and messages in the guest book online for Cook Funeral Home, Grandville, MI at


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


James Shive Strickland

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Douglas Kindschi

October 20, 2020

Jim Strickland was an honored member of Grand Valley State University's faculty and community. It was my great pleasure to have known him and worked with him as he coordinated the faculty efforts for the building of the Padnos Hall of Science 25 years ago. On the 3rd floor of that building Jim's pictures of the construction taken each month from various angles were displayed.

He was a gentle but hightly motivated person whom I will always consider as a friend and colleague.

Doug Kindschi

Karen Gipson

October 20, 2020

Jim was a truly remarkable man. He had already retired from GVSU by the time I arrived in 1999, but retirement didn't keep him away from the GVSU physics department! We shared a love of teaching physics and a belief that active engagement was crucial for student learning. After teaching a couple of years at GVSU, I was amazed to realize that a (much younger) Jim was featured in an educational video clip that I had been using for many years! Jim attended physics events and colloquia for many years, and he was supportive of me in my role as the first (and so far only) female chair of the physics department for 2 terms. When he began using a cane, we often commiserated on mobility issues (although not yet 60, I'm mobility-impaired from a severe stroke in 2010). I sometimes provided transportation from the assisted living facility in Holland for him to attend physics events after he quit driving, and he was always very gracious and extremely enjoyable to chat with, often speaking of things he had learned recently. He was the epitome of a lifelong learner and will always live in my heart and mind as a true gentleman!


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