Richard M. Strickler, a strong marine industry advocate largely credited with driving the Grow Boating Campaign, died on Apr. 14, in Franklin, Tenn. He was 71.
Strickler retired as executive vice president of the marine division of GE Commercial Finance's Distribution Finance Unit in 2005. Strickler was a 32-year company veteran and a recognized industry financing leader, spending most of his career in the Chicago area.
“Richard has devoted his career to serving the Marine industry with a passion that is difficult to match,” Bob Martin, then president and CEO of GE Commercial Finance's Distribution Finance unit, said at the announcement of Strickler’s retirement. “With tireless effort, he has helped the industry with unwavering commitment. We look forward to continue working with him as our consultant.”
Bruce Van Wagoner, president of the Wells Fargo CDF Marine Group (formerly GE Capital's Commercial Distribution Finance), mourned the passing of a longtime colleague and friend.
"Richard and I competed in business for many years before a merger brought us together under the GE Capital banner. He was a giant of a man in both stature and integrity," Van Wagoner said to Boating Industry. "I am proud to have called him a friend."
In 2003, action was taken to begin the Grow Boating campaign, with Strickler spearheading the efforts to develop the agenda for the introductory meetings that helped build the campaign to what it is today. At the time, he wrote the following to several industry executives in his appeal to take action in what he saw was a loss in interest in the boating lifestyle – problems the industry still continues to address today – which was published in a September 2003 article in Boating Industry:
“The boating industry has experienced a loss in its [recreational products industry] market share over the past several years. Unit shipments have fallen off at a steady rate, with fewer and fewer new boats being shipped and sold at retail. The marine industry’s piece of the [leisure time products industry] pie continues to shrink, while those of the RV and other competitive industries continue to grow.”
After retiring to Franklin, Tenn., Richard enjoyed years of domestic and international travel with his wife, family and friends. His financial experience brought him into service for the Williamson County GOP and as a financial consultant at church and for family and friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Benjamin and Mary Strickler. Survived by his wife of 43 years, Dianne Strickler; daughter, Joslin (Will) Tidwell; son, Blake (Sai) Strickler; grandchildren, Sam and Carter Tidwell; sisters, Janet (Richard) Stephens and Jolletta (Andy) Dean.
A visitation will be held at 2 p.m. and a celebration of Richard's life will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, 2016 at Fourth Avenue Church of Christ, 117 4th Ave. in Franklin.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Ezell-Harding Christian School.