In Memory of

Deborah

Jane

Strickland

Obituary for Deborah Jane Strickland

Deborah "Debby" Parker Strickland, age 84, of Stillwater, Oklahoma, passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, February 10, 2024. A memorial service will be 2:00 p.m. Saturday, February 17, 2024 at the First United Methodist Church in Stillwater. Strode Funeral Home and Cremation is in charge of the arrangements.

Debby was born on July 31, 1939, at St. Anthony's Hospital in Oklahoma City, to the late Wayne and Deborah Ryder Parker.

Her family lived in Oklahoma City where she graduated from Northeast High School. In high school she was an active member of the Norkets, serving at Social Chair, Y-teens, Future Teachers, French Club, and the Red Cross.

In 1957, Debby came to Oklahoma State University to major in Home Economics. One of her most cherished memories at OSU was being a charter member of the Beta Psi Chapter of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority on February 8, 1958. She would continue her love and devotion to the chapter until her last day.

In 1960, Debby met the love of her life, Leo Strickland, while he worked on his PhD. at OSU. They became engaged in January 1961, and married, June 3, 1961, in Oklahoma City. After Leo completed his PhD, the couple moved to Opelika Alabama, where Leo worked for the USDA at Auburn University. Debby and Leo had two children while in Alabama, daughter, Laura (1962), and son, Parker (1965). Leo had the opportunity to become a professor in the Agricultural Economics Department at OSU, and the family returned to Stillwater in 1965.

Stillwater would become their lifelong home. As Leo continued building his career at OSU, both he and Debby became pillars in the Stillwater community. Until 1972, when Debby gave birth to a daughter, LeAnne, she and Leo would open their home to numerous foster children in hopes of giving them a loving home to begin their young lives. Debby followed her dream to open the premiere sewing store in Stillwater, the Nimble Thimble, in the early 70's that provided sewing classes, as well as the finest fabric in town. In the late 1970's, she made the decision to close the store to spend more time at home with her children.

In 1979, Debby lost Leo unexpectedly, and found herself a single mom of three, in a time when the world did not have resources available as we do today. Surrounded by their Yost Lake Family, as well as the support from valued family friends within the Stillwater Community, the family survived to be the people they are now with the support and love received from all of the people in the community.

Learning from her own mother and father's steadfast resolve during WWII, Debby embraced the need to move forward for herself and her young family. She completed her master's degree from Oklahoma State University in Clothing, Textiles and Merchandising. She became the Program Coordinator for the Center of Apparel, Marketing and Merchandising where she initiated the Oklahoma Project for the American Quilt Festival held in New York City.

She then transitioned to being the Coordinator for Extension Programs in the College of Education before taking a hiatus. She also was a part of Leadership Stillwater, Who's Who in American Women, Province Director for Gamma Phi Beta, President of the Stillwater Arts Council, a member of Phi Upsilon Omicron - National Honorary Home Economics Fraternity, an Alumna initiate in Order of Omega, and recipient of the Juanita Kilbourne Professional Development Award.

Beginning in the late 1990's, Debby had a fulfilling career, serving as a housemother at the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity at Oklahoma State University. In 2006, Debby was Named the Marie Coe Memorial National Alpha Gamma Rho House Director of the Year for Program Management for the Pi Chapter. She retired from her "Mom Deb" duties in 2018.

Her more than 60 years of leadership to the Gamma Phis included serving on their housing corporation, spearheading expansion, renovation, and establishing scholarships for the undergraduates. She found joy and fulfillment watching the members run to the house on Bid Day, and seeing the awe and appreciation on the faces of all who entered the house as it grew and expanded into what it is today. Love, Labor, Learning, and Loyalty to Gamma Phi Beta and all the sisterhood was a theme that permeated Debby's life.

Debby was also a longtime leader of the Greek Neighborhood Association and the OSU House Director's (House Mom's) Association. She served on many University committees, including the most recent group formed to produce the 25-year plan for the expansion/improvement of the Stillwater campus.

In honor of her commitment to the OSU Greek Community, Debby was a 2020 inductee into the OSU Fraternity & Sorority Hall of Fame.

Debby was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where she found solace and community. She will be remembered for her passion for sewing, quilting, basket weaving, and spending time with friends. Debby also had a special talent for teaching etiquette courses to college students.


She is preceded in death by her beloved husband, Percy Leo Strickland, Jr. and her parents, Wayne and Deborah Parker.

Debby is survived by family, her children, Laura, Parker and his wife Lori, LeAnne and her husband Mark; her grandchildren, Jacob and his wife Meghan, Link and his wife Annie, Gray and his wife Cassidy, Lauren and her husband Jacob, Aaron and his fiancé Jess; great-grandchildren, Olivia, Sam, and Vivian; her brother Andy and his wife Marie; her niece Jennifer; nephew, Neal and his wife Crystal; great-nephews, Huntleigh, Ryder, Killian, and Wyatt also mourn her passing.

In lieu of customary remembrances, the family kindly requests that donations be made in support of the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority Scholarship - 34-80850 fund at the OSU Foundation. Checks can be made payable to the OSU Foundation and mailed to PO Box 1749 - Stillwater, OK 74076-1749, or gifts can be made at osugiving.com. Please note your donation is in memory of Deborah Parker Strickland.