William A. Strong, 89, of Pine Bluff, died at home on October 12, 2013, surrounded by his wife and children.
Born in Collierville, Tenn. on June 16, 1924, he was the son of the late Xenophon Strong and Laura Leake Strong. He graduated from Collierville High School in 1942. After serving in the Marine Corps in World War II, he returned to Shelby County, Tenn. where he first began to show his entrepreneurial spirit by starting a drag line business serving construction markets. In 1948, he enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering in 1951. Upon graduation, he worked for Kimberly-Clark Corporation in Memphis before moving to west Texas and Okla. in the oil fields as a tool engineer.
After several years he returned to Little Rock, Ark. and entered the construction business, eventually moving to the Pine Bluff area to help construct the International Paper Company Mill and formed The Strong Company, Inc. in 1959. Over the next 54 years, Mr. Strong started 13 companies and operated manufacturing plants in Ark., Ill., S.C. and Texas. These companies mined vermiculite ore, processed and blended unique materials such as vermiculite and perlite for construction, industrial and horticultural applications and manufactured specially designed mixers, pumps and other equipment for the installation of these and other products.
During his career, Mr. Strong was awarded 10 patents and was considered an industry leader and innovator in every market where Strong products were sold. Mr. Strong had a great love of America and the American dream. He believed America created a land of opportunity for him, his family and his employees. As a result of this, Mr. Strong supported many conservative causes and candidates for political office. Mr. Strong supported young people from Arkansas for Internships at the Heritage Foundation, Leadership Institute and the Young America’s Foundation. He also was a strong supporter of promoting free market principles through the National Federation of Independent Business.
Mr. Strong was an avid fisherman, and owned homes on the White River near Norfork, Ark. and Gulf Shores, Ala., where he and his wife Genevieve, enjoyed many happy times and entertained countless guests. He and Mrs. Strong traveled the world together and shared many experiences. Mrs. Strong was a tireless supporter of Mr. Strong’s career and was critical to the success of the many Strong companies.
Mr. Strong was a member of Wesley United Methodist Church in Pine Bluff, where he served in many leadership positions. He was also active in outreach programs, where he enjoyed serving his legendary pork barbecue at every opportunity. He loved helping employees and their families in their time of need. His favorite charities were including Arkansas Children’s Hospital and St. Jude Hospital.
Survivors include his wife, Genevieve Hirschmann Strong, to whom he was married on June 12, 1948 in Collierville, Tenn.; his children: daughter Annette Strong Kline and husband Mike; son William A. Strong, Jr. (Billy) and daughter Betty Jane Strong; sixgrandchildren and nine great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents, sisters Sarah Dean Guy and Eleanor Hirschmann, grandson Kevin Kline and great-grandson, Sage Strong.
Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at Wesley United Methodist Church with Reverend Fred Arnold and Reverend Jackie Gregory officiating. Burial will follow in Union Cemetery by Ralph Robinson & Son Funeral Directors Online register: www.ralphrobinsonandson.com). Visitation will be Tuesday evening from 6-8 p.m. at Robinson’s.
In lieu of flowers, the family request memorials to be sent to Hospice Angels, 3801 Camden Road, Chapel Village 1, Suite 12, Pine Bluff, Ark. 71603 or Methodist Family Health Foundation, 1600 Aldersgate Road, Little Rock, Ark. 72205.