Obituary | Michael L. Stricklin

· 4 min read

Obituary | Michael L. Stricklin

Mug shot of Michael Stricklin, a retired professor of journalism who died at the age of 78 on Sept. 2.

Michael Lewis Stricklin, 78, retired professor of journalism, died Sept. 2 in his Hillsboro, Oregon, home.

In a university career that spanned five decades, Stricklin’s spirit nurtured more than 10,000 students as he taught the basics of the profession and it being an act of public service.

Stricklin was born in San Angelo, Texas, on July 28, 1944. His father, Billy Hugh Miller, a captain in the Army Air Corps, died in a plane crash in 1949. His mother, Patricia Jane Woods, remarried to Kenneth L. Stricklin in 1952. Kenneth adopted Stricklin and his younger brother, David.

Stricklin showed an early interest in journalism at San Angelo Central High School where he won awards both for writing editorials and as a musician.

He entered Baylor University in 1962 as a journalism major and was on the staff of The Lariat, the student newspaper, for three years. It was the start of a long association with Baylor, as a student, lab assistant in 1968-69 and journalism faculty in the early 1970s.

Stricklin was mentored by David McHam, a Baylor faculty member and the Lariat adviser. McHam recognized early on Stricklin’s potential to help other students learn.

“When Mike was an undergraduate, I began to see that he would make a great teacher, and he was,” McHam said. “But as great as he was, he was an even better friend.”

Close friends and former students remember Mike for encouraging them to look at issues or ideas from multiple angles, invariably finding at least one that others hadn’t considered.

“He’s always had the curiosity one expects from a journalist, but he seemed tuned to a higher pitch, and more enthusiastic somehow,” said Amy Culbertson, a retired newspaper editor who Stricklin advised as a Baylor University undergraduate. “His mind was always working, usually in surprising ways.”

Stricklin and his wife, Chere Anne Robins Stricklin, a medical technologist, became Peace Corps volunteers in Brazil.

After two years in Brejo Grande, Brazil, the couple (who married in 1965), had started a community garden, kindergarten and an adult literacy class.

Stricklin returned to Baylor in 1968 as a graduate assistant, advising The Lariat. Between 1969 and 1971, he worked as a management trainee at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, and as news editor at the San Angelo Standard-Times. From 1981 to 1983, he took leave from teaching to be assistant managing editor of the Star-Telegram.

In 1972, he received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley, gaining a grounding in technological changes on the horizon in anticipation of a teaching career. Back at Baylor that fall, he taught journalism and media history courses and again advised the student newspaper.

After leaving Baylor, Stricklin began work on a doctorate at the University of Iowa, where he became publisher of The Daily Iowan, the student newspaper.

In 1977, armed with a doctorate from Iowa and a dissertation about how new technology would affect the future of journalism, Stricklin began a 28-year career teaching and completing communications research at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Stricklin’s interest in community journalism was especially significant to Joan Rezak, who as an undergraduate wanted to leave the state to work in big city journalism. As her adviser, Stricklin insisted she take a political science course in Nebraska government.

After working in Des Moines, Iowa, and Omaha, Rezak is now the editor overseeing five western Nebraska newspapers.

“(Mike) believed in me before I believed in me,” she said. “He knew what you needed before you did. On some level, he knew I would come home.”

In 1989, Mike developed a new interest in Brazil — this time as a leader of a Partners of the Americas cultural and educational exchange program between Nebraska and the Brazilian state of Piaui. The program sponsored more than 400 exchanges of business people, professors and students in 12 years.

When Stricklin retired from Nebraska in 2004, he and Chere moved to Teresina, Brazil, where he was a Fulbright senior lecturer in graduate communications research at the Federal University of Piaui. This summer, Federal University faculty gave him its highest honor, naming him a professor in honoris causas.

In 2016, the Stricklins moved to Hillsboro, Oregon, to be closer to their children.

Stricklin is survived by his wife; son, Woods Stricklin of Hillsboro; daughter, Robin Watt of New Orleans; brother David Stricklin of Arlington, Texas; sisters, Jane Stricklin of Springfield, Illinois, and Cathy Becknell of Saginaw, Texas; four grandchildren; and one great grandchild.

The family plans a memorial service at a later date to honor Stricklin’s life.

A celebration of Stricklin’s life is being planned for a later date. The family requests memorial donations to a University of Nebraska–Lincoln scholarship in Stricklin’s name.

Recent News