Mark Stephen Strickland ,72, of Elkview passed from his earthly home February 24, 2021 after a short illness.
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Stephen was the only child of Mark Clay Strickland and Charlotte Humphreys Strickland who preceded him in death. Also preceding him were his grandparents, most of his aunts and uncles and his best furry friend, Winston, his English Bulldog. Steve mourned the loss of four of his dear friends who were each as close as family to him and would want to honor them, the late Mr. Ed Hafer, Mr. Kenneth “Bud” Payne, Mr. William “Bill” Stump and Mr. John Reed.
Steve is survived by his daughter, Lisa Beth Strickland Hatcher and her husband David of Elyria Ohio ; son Mark Edward Strickland and his wife Traci of Charleston WV; grandchildren; Mark William "Will", Andrew, Michael Strickland , and Jordan Elizabeth Hatcher ; beloved uncle the Rev. Dr. C. Harold Smith of Cross Lanes WV, and several Strickland and Humphreys cousins.
Steve was a graduate of Herbert Hoover High School, class of 1966; Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science and West Virginia State College. He was a former member of the Clendenin Volunteer Fire Department; Clendenin Baptist Church ; WV Funeral Directors Association; Clendenin Masonic Lodge # 126 AF & AM; Scottish Rite, York Rite Bodies, Charleston; Beni Kedem Shriners of Charleston; Past Potentate of Beni Kedem Shrine 2006 where he was a member of the Gold Band, Oriental Band , and the Royal Order of the Jesters.
He founded and owned the Strickland Funeral Home in Clendenin during the seventies and eighties. He felt honored by the families who chose him to take care of their loved ones at a fragile time in their lives. He grieved especially for those who lost their lives tragically during the years that he worked “up Elk River” at Strickland Funeral and later at Hafer Funeral Home. Steve retired from Aurora Casket Company as a sales representative.
Steve’s career in funeral service began at the Hafer Funeral home where he worked part time as a college student and was mentored by the late Ed and Henry Hafer. In those days, the job started as car washer for the business vehicles, parking attendant, driving flowers to the cemetery and any work that was needed, including driving their ambulance. Funeral homes provided the only ambulance services for many years until the seventies when individuals started establishing professional medical transport business.
Music was a favorite pastime all his life. He loved playing saxophone and sousaphone in the Herbert Hoover Marching Huskies Band under the direction of the greatly respected late Mr. John Barnes. Band was the highlight of his high school years where many close friendships were made.
As an adult , he spent many evenings with his friends Mike Stout and Rick Lyons playing guitars and singing country style hymns and humorous ballads. Two of their favorites were “I’ll Fly Away” and “Life is Like a Mountain Railroad”. He sang in the Clendenin Community Chorus annual presentation of The Messiah.
Beth and Mark could depend on their dad to be at their Little League softball and baseball games where he loved cheering them, announcing the players and play by plays and driving them to the Dairy Queen to celebrate a win. As a volunteer firefighter he instilled the respect and love of fire service to his son Mark . Their dad was the parent extraordinaire when it came to helping with homework and studying for tests.
He was known for his love of telling a good joke, quick dry wit and sense of humor.
Steve cherished the memories of family gatherings with his aunts, uncles and cousins. The close-knit Strickland clan spent holidays and summer vacations on the banks of the Elk River in the family back yard. Thanksgiving was a huge family tradition and feast hosted by his Aunt Frank and Uncle Warner. During summers they welcomed out of town family who enjoyed Aunt Frank’s homemade hot rolls, pies and fresh vegetables from their garden. After dinner, the cousins spilled out of the house to the riverbank and grabbed the swing out over the river.
The Humphreys family celebrated the annual Christmas party at Grandma Lydia’s small house where aunts, uncles and cousins filled every corner. Everyone took their favorite dish to share on the bountiful table. A favorite memory was the family singing Christmas carols led by the angelic voices of the beautiful Aunts Doris and Margaret and his mother Charlotte. They also enjoyed a yearly picnic of home fried chicken and all the other family favorite foods, visiting and more singing.
Steve was grateful to the cousins who carried on the tradition so they could reminiscence the good times and catch up on changes life offered them as time marched forward.
The Elk River flood of 2016 destroyed Steve’s home and everything in it. His life was spared only by the graces and heroics of a neighbor ,Chad Baldwin, who awakened him and rescued him by boat out of the waist deep water to the safety of his car parked above the property on RT 119. His loss was only one of many families who lost everything including their schools. Steve was eternally grateful to the organization Samaritan’s Purse who had come to the area in response to the disaster and helped him rebuild the house.
It is only fitting that Steve’s funeral service will be at Hafer Funeral Home in Elkview where he began his life’s work and completed it as a part time employee and director emeritus in recent years. Masks and social distancing are required. Service will be Saturday February 27, 2021 at 1 o’clock with the Rev. Archie Snedegar officiating. Visitation will be held 11:00am -1:00pm. Masonic graveside rites will be honored and burial will follow at Sand Run Cemetery.
The family expresses their appreciation to John Hafer Thaxton and his staff for his guidance and kindness at this difficult time. John was just like another son to Steve.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Steve’s memory to Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational Christian disaster relief organization that has been providing aid since 1970. Address P.O. Box 3000, Boone ,NC 28607, phone 828-262-1980 or Beni Kedem Transportation Fund, 100 Quarrier St. Charleston WV 25301, 304-343-9405.