Huey Pierce Strickland, a genuine kindred spirit, tough Arkansas Irishman, kind hearted dreamer, and true jack of all trades passed away on October 14th, 2021 at the age of 82. Huey is survived by son and daughter-in-law Jeff & Janet Strickland, daughter Lisa Meinhardt, grandchildren Kati Goering, Ryan & Kyle Meinhardt, great grandchildren Jonathan & Zachary Meinhardt. He is also survived by brother, Don Murtishaw and good friend/companion Mary Ella Rutschman.
Huey was born in the small rural southern Arkansas town of El Dorado in March of 1939. To say that Huey came from humble and challenging beginnings is an understatement. At the age of five Huey’s father passed away. Eighteen months later Huey and his three younger brothers were orphaned when their mother passed away. For the next eleven years Huey and Vic grew up in the Arkansas Baptist Orphan’s Home. Both Roy and Don were adopted by the loving Murtishaw family in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
Huey’s time in the orphanage were filled with experiences and boyhood lore that mirrored the tales of the novel Huckleberry Finn or a Steinbeck novel. His unique name was actually the namesake of the famous southern Robin Hoodesque Louisianian politician Huey Pierce Long. Whether it be milking cows, fixing a tractor on the orphanage’s working farm, or helping to build a barn at eight years old, Huey certainly learned the value of hard work and unwavering persistence at a very young age. That’s not to say that Huey was all work and no play. It was not uncommon for Huey and his buddies to sneak into the orphanage kitchen at night for a little extra buttermilk to stave off a rumbling belly. Tormenting possums by swinging them around by the tail was a favorite activity as was an afternoon of fishing and then jumping into the nearby river for a dip in their Arkansas version of a neighborhood pool. Periodically “borrowing” watermelons from a nearby farm even if that meant an angry farmer with a shotgun was not uncommon for little Huey P. That work ethic, curiosity, genuine love of learning the how and why things work, dogged determination, resourcefulness, and small streak of orneriness stayed with Huey for the rest of his life. If it was learning to play the piano during middle age, becoming an accomplished wood worker, or attempting to learn Spanish for a mission trip, Huey tackled new tasks with a tenacious attitude exempt of fear or intimidation.
After graduating Monticello High School in 1957 Huey attended Ouachita Baptist College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with plans to become a doctor. To earn money for medical school Huey made the decision to join the Army where he received an honorable discharge two years later. After his stint with the Army Huey then worked a variety of jobs including a worker in steel drum factory in Detroit, Michigan where he had his first slice of pizza, a successful salesman who could sell a “ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves”, small business owner, tax preparer, and a financial advisor.
Beyond all of Huey’s accomplishments the most enduring trait of Huey was his genuine unpretentious, jovial, and gregarious personality. Huey was always ready to shake a stranger’s hand, and then proceed to strike up a conversation about anything and everything. If you were lucky, you might even be privy to one of Huey’s stockpile of jokes. He had dad jokes before there was such a thing as a dad joke: “by the way that’s a Ferrari and not a Porsche”. Huey was bigger than life without being overbearing and off-putting. That’s uncommon these days. His generosity, empathy for others, and penchant for taking care of both people and animals knew no bounds.
At his time of passing Huey was ready to go to begin his next journey. Now you don’t have to worry about “starting that diet on Monday morning” Huey. Eat a bounty of fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, cornbread/“not sweet cornbread please”, and listen to Mr. Orbison, Ms. Holliday, Dean Martin, and the Platters until your hearts content. Godspeed Huey.