Allan Edgar Strand Jr., 91, passed away peacefully with his family gathered close in Selma, Alabama on July 26, 2022.
Throughout his long life he sought to live by the words of the prophet Micah and “to act justly, to love faithfulness and to walk humbly with his God.”
He grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, the eldest son of Allan and Catharine Strand and attended the Darlington School and Davidson College. A talented athlete, he developed a lifelong love of tennis that would lead him to win two North Carolina and one Tennessee state championships as well as a win at the national U.S Air Defense tournament in Fort Meade Maryland. He worked as a tennis pro at the Merion Cricket Club in Philadelphia where he played a memorable match beating the women’s Wimbledon champion, Maureen Connelly fresh from her triumph.
“Last week, I was in Philadelphia and got beat by some pro that nobody ever heard of!” she told the New York Times and promptly returned for a rematch. In 1957, he helped integrate the Greensboro city tennis courts when he invited George Simkins, a talented African-American tennis player, to join him on the court. Strand continued to play tennis throughout his life, competing in both singles and doubles, only setting down his racquet in recent years when his fading vision made it too difficult to see the ball.
Strand served in the Army after working as a radar acquisition operator on the Nike missile system and would receive a commission in the Naval Reserve, eventually attaining the rank of Commander in Naval Intelligence.
He attended Westminster Theological Seminary and became a Presbyterian minister but ultimately found his true calling in the world of independent school education, guiding young people to lives of both moral and social purpose. He received his Doctorate in Education from the University of Tennessee and taught English and Spanish at the Darlington School and Memphis University School before becoming Headmaster at the Donohoe School in Anniston, Alabama (formerly Anniston Academy.) At the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Strand led the effort to integrate the Lovett School in Atlanta, Georgia and began a challenging eight-year tenure as headmaster, diversifying both the student body and the staff and helping Lovett become the premier educational institution it is today.
As the President of the mid-South Association of Independent Schools in the 1970s, he offered courageous leadership, promoting continued integration of educational institutions. Ultimately, he would take his mission to Newark Academy in Livingston, New Jersey, a school renowned for its multiculturism, where he served as headmaster for over seventeen years.
Strand was a member of the Headmasters Association and served as President of the Mid-South, Southern, and New Jersey Associations of Independent Schools. He was President, as well, of the Country Day Headmaster’s Association. He helped to found and served as chairman of the board of St. Philips Academy, a preparatory school for children in inner city Newark.
Later he was appointed President of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation supporting colleges across the American South.
Throughout his life Strand served his community in a variety of volunteer positions: as President of the Rotary Club, with the Chamber of Commerce, the United Way, and as an elder in the Presbyterian Church, where he taught Bible study.
Upon retiring to Oxford, Mississippi, he founded the GED and literacy program sponsored by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and helped to establish the first lending library in the local men’s prison.
Strand is survived by his beloved wife of 61 years, the artist Anne Strand, by his son Clark Strand and his wife Perdita Finn of Woodstock, NY, and their children Sophie and Jonah Strand; his son Dr. Allan Strand III, and his wife Dr. Maureen Hays of Charleston, NC; his daughter Anne Catharine and her husband Allen Reeves of Selma, AL, and their children Lizzie and Anne Smith Reeves; and his daughter Dr. Elizabeth Strand of Knoxville, TN. His brother Austin Strand pre-deceased him.
A funeral service will be held on Tuesday, August 2 at 2PM at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Selma, Alabama.
Flowers may be sent to St. Paul’s Church in Selma, Alabama and donations may be offered to the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation.