Bea and Jim Strickland

Jim Strickland passed away May 26. He will be missed!

Bea and Jim Strickland have been long-time members Strickland, Bea and Jim
of Better Marriages, active on the national as well as the local (Silicon Valley) level.

Bea and Jim believed in marriage enrichment – they believed in Better Marriages. They started dozens of MEGs, coordinated annual retreats, presented workshops at International Better Marriages Conferences, provided numerous articles for various newsletters, and served as mentors that hundreds of couples looked up to.

If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation in honor of Bea and Jim, you can do so HERE.

From Edna Wallace, long-time member of Better Marriages:

Jim was not the strong, silent type. Yes, he was strong and yes, he wasn’t particularly garrulous but he talked enough. Bea said she needed to initiate conversation at home, and I could see that, but when Jim had thoughts and opinions about something, he voiced them. Basically he communicated much the way he seemed to do most other things in life: clearly, kindly, honesty, calmly, and directly.

If something needed to be handled, Jim handled it. I remember years of marriage enrichment planning, when he needed to remember a task, he’d leave himself a voice message on a little silver microphone he’d carry around in his pocket. That was uniquely Jim.

He never had qualms about the things he got involved in and the things he got involved in were unique, cool, a little “off the beaten track”—banjo-playing, marriage enrichment leadership and retreat coordination, becoming a docent at the Silicon Valley computer museum, and some involvement in local politics. Whatever he took on, he took on completely, very quickly excelling at it and then taking on a leadership role—because that was Jim too, a natural-born leader—he and Bea both.

Jim was the model of responsibility and loyalty, and he and Bea built communities around them for more than 3 decades. Many communities, touching many people. They basically brought marriage enrichment to the Bay Area and initiated so many Marriage Enrichment Groups (MEGs) here and coached so many other MEGs that it is truly remarkable. In a quiet, determined, unassuming way they built Better Marriages right here; they brought heart to our crazy valley. Their huge shoes (size 29 minimum) can never be filled.

One unforgettable example of his/their giant footprints happened just this past January. Paul and I coordinated the 2016 retreat and were to also lead one of the two small groups, with another couple leading the other small group. Jim and Bea were going but as participants only (after about 15 or 20 years of coordinating that retreat); Jim was ill. He hadn’t been diagnosed yet, but both of them knew something was seriously wrong. He’d been tired and worn down for months and had definitely not felt like himself. Last minute, the day before the retreat, I get a call from the other small group leader couple that one of them has laryngitis and cannot speak at all right now. I panic; there are no other possible leader couples (except for the Stricklands). I really don’t want to ask Bea and Jim, but I do wind up asking them, in tears, the day of. They hesitate for all of 10 seconds and agree. Jim says to me on the phone “Edna, it’s done, we’ll do it. End of story.” They led the small group all weekend in addition to leading the Sat. night program on intimacy (their hallmark). They did so without fuss, smoothly, beautifully. Now that to me is a “one-in-a-million couple”.

But that dedication and community-centeredness was simply part of Jim. Another part, which we all knew, was the twinkle in his eye. He had a wonderful sense of humor, in a gentle or dry way. I know he and Bea worked intentionally on eliminating teasing in their relationship and what unfolded from that was a light touch—naturally very funny. There are Jim-isms I won’t forget, like “I have a bedside table” (talking about his share of storage at home).

Bea and Jim exuded playfulness, sensitivity, and health. Jim was healthy until he got leukemia and then he went fast. But he lived the motto: “carpe diem”—as Bea does too. As that’s the bumper sticker on the back of my car, I have to have my role-models for that, which both of them are, and Bea, bless her heart, still is. We will miss Jim greatly!

To view a couple exercise written by Bea, click here.

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