Her true calling, however, was as an educator.
Stricklen’s Facebook page was flooded with tributes from former students after word spread of her passing. Stricklen died Sunday of a stroke at age 74.
“I am who I am because she was who she was. I will continue to teach the way she taught me, focusing on each student, not just the subject content. She is already missed,” a Mobile resident posted.
Another former student chose to honor Stricklen by sharing her three maxims — “Do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it. Be where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. You only get out of anything what you put into it.”
Stricklen was born in Cordova, lived away for 20 years as an adult and moved home in 1976 after the passing of her father, Luchie Vickery.
While teaching at Dora High School, Stricklen was asked by the principal if she would consider taking some students to England for a field trip.
She would chaperone students on overseas trips for the next 23 years and traveled even more extensively in retirement.
By 2010, when Stricklen discussed her love of travel with the Daily Mountain Eagle, she had been to every area of the world except India and South Africa.
As souvenirs, Stricklen collected Nativity sets. She proudly displayed all 80 in her home year-round.
In 2004, Stricklen won a seat on the Cordova City Council. She served two terms alongside former schoolmate and friend Jack Scott.
When Scott needed someone to organize the People Against a Littered State (PALS) clean-up each spring, he turned to Stricklen.
“We’ve lost another good citizen,” Scott said this week after her passing.
Stricklen also helped mold the current mayor of Cordova while he was in high school and she was a volunteer Scholars Bowl sponsor.
“Sandra later made the motion to appoint me to the vacant City Council seat, which helped shape where I am today and the progress that Cordova has been able to boast,” Drew Gilbert said. “I am fortunate enough to have not lost many loved ones in my short tenure on Earth, but I can say that with the passing of Mrs. Stricklen, that I have lost a woman that helped shape who I am.”
A memorial service will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Cordova.
In lieu of flowers, Stricklen requested that donations be made to the Mount Carmel Cemetery Association or the Southern Poverty Law Center.