Weslaco-Arthur Udell "AU" Strickland, Sr. passed away on Saturday morning, February 10th, 2018 at the age of 89 with his family at his side. He was born in Donna, Texas to Charlie and Almanie Strickland on April 14th, 1928 and was the seventh of eight children. AU lost his mom tragically in a house fire when he was only ten years old. The older siblings became more like father figures to AU and his younger brother Weldon. AU and his family were expected to help work on the farm where they were raised. By the time AU was twelve years old, he was responsible for nearly all of the tractor work on the family farm. After he graduated from Weslaco High School in 1945, AU joined the Airforce where he spent the next four years.
He returned to Weslaco after he fulfilled his service to our country and worked at McManus Produce as a bookkeeper and then worked for Texsun as the scale operator.
He met his future wife a young waitress named Rita Hernandez at the Keno Cafe where he and his co-workers would walk across the street for coffee breaks. He was determined to make her his wife and courted her for four years and in 1961 Rita became Mrs. Arthur Strickland. They would enjoy the next 57 years together.
AU and Rita started a family soon and had three children, AU Jr., Larry, and Sandra. They also started their own business in 1967, Strickland's Drive Inn, where they worked as a team until they retired in 1992. AU would be at the store at 5 am every morning to make sure the truck drivers were fueled up and had their morning coffee and Rita would close the store at 11 pm. They were a perfect team.
AU loved to watch game shows and work crossword puzzles, perhaps this what kept his mind sharp until the day he passed away. He had a remarkable memory. He was a die-hard Cubs fan. He loved to tell jokes and could make everyone smile with his jovial spirit. He helped care for his grandchildren and had a special nickname for every one of them and also for many of the customers from the store. He was a believer in Christ and faithful Catholic.
AU is preceded in death by his parents, Charlie and Almanie Strickland, his son, Larry Strickland, his brothers, Leon, Clay, Clarence and Ernest, and his sisters Mozelle Strickland and Lorene Boatman.
He is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Rita, his son, AU Strickland Jr. (Mary) of Weslaco, daughter, Sandra Melendez (Rene) of Harlingen, brother, Weldon (Ruby+), grandchildren, Stefany (AJ), Emily, Larry, Iliana, Julian, and great-grandchild, Evelyn, and many nieces and nephews with one very special niece, Dorothy Weathers.
AU will always be remembered for his determination and work ethic, which was diligent and honorable. He was a loving father and devoted husband and respected member of his church and community.
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Going to miss Art taking his long walks within our orchard looking for that perfect grapefruit to take home. My deepest condolences to my friend Rita and the whole family. It will take a long time to heal, but healing will come. May God keep him in his loving arms and reach out to help the family through these tough time. God Bless You All!
Thoughts and prayers to the family of Arthur Strickland.
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