April 9, 1926 - June 27, 2017
Vernon Edward Strength, 91, died on June 27, 2017.
Vernon was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas April 9, 1926. He spent almost his entire childhood in the family hometown of Marshall, Texas. He graduated from Marshall High School in 1943. Following World War II, he did the majority of his undergraduate work at Texas College of the Mines, later the University of Texas at El Paso, and was a proud graduate of Texas Wesleyan University.
Vernon joined the Navy after a summer job at the Texas and Pacific Railroad. He was eager to join the Second World War and afraid it would end before he enlisted. He joked that he was afraid his older brother, John, would be the only one to come home from the war with stories and he was eager to join so he’d have his own stories to share with the family. He served on the USS Chicago, USS Hancock and others. He was a fire control man and fired 21-inch guns in the Pacific. He witnessed the signing of the Japanese surrender from his ship, the USS Chicago, in Tokyo Bay. While stationed at a US Naval Base in El Centro, California he attended Imperial Valley Junior College and played college football. Early in his career, he worked for the Federal Aviation Administration, as a civilian for the US Army and spent the bulk of his career working as a benefits counselor and fraud agent for the Veteran’s Administration. He retired at the age of 57, moved back to Fort Worth and loved working crossword puzzles daily, playing Scrabble, travelling and watching his favorite sports — college baseball and football.
He never forgot his upbringing during the Great Depression and was active throughout his life in philanthropy to help those underserved and less fortunate, especially veterans returning from service overseas. During his work career, he was the United Way chair for several years at the Veterans Administrations Central Office in Washington, DC. He was appointed by President Nixon to serve on a special commission for Disabled Veterans. While working in Washington, he was a Rose Garden ceremony extra – when they needed men in suits for signing ceremonies. He joked he never imagined as a child growing up in Marshall, Texas, he’d later be a White House extra. He was an active member of the Kiwanis club of Fairfax, VA after his retirement. He was later appointed an Admiral of the Texas Navy in 2009. He also served as a Diocesan Delegate in the Episcopal church (said one term was enough of church politics) and was a member of Holy Apostles and later Trinity Episcopal Church.
The family is especially grateful to his physician of 29 years, James C Readinger, MD and his nurses Retha and Robin for decades of meticulous patient care and superb referrals to specialists.
He was preceded in death by his parents Mary and John Peyton Strength Sr, of Marshall, Texas.
Survivors: Wife of 56 years, Danna Elliott Strength of Fort Worth; son, Richard Strength and wife, Erma of Laurel, Mississippi; son, Van E. Strength of Fort Worth; six grandchildren, Dana, Adeline, Raymond, Amy, Joshua and Michael Strength; and nine great-grandchildren; his older brother John Peyton Strength Jr. and wife, Ann of Douglasville, GA; his younger sister, Nora Coffee of Birmingham, Alabama; his younger brother, Leonard Strength and his significant other, Louise Daffin of Marianna, Florida. He is also survived by Sandra Bergen Strength of Santa Monica, California who was like a daughter to him and two life-long Navy best friends, Lynn Leavitt of St. George, Utah and Frank Nelson of Akron, Ohio.