Distinguished Achievement – Gil Stricklin, B.A. ’57, (1934–2023)
In every area of his life, Gil Stricklin devoted himself in love to God and the people around him.
Stricklin’s faith journey began when he was 12 years old, when he entrusted his life to Jesus. This childhood decision set him on a lifetime path of caring for souls.
Stricklin attended Baylor University to study business, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1957. He was greatly involved in life on campus, serving as freshman class president, a Yell Leader and in Baylor’s ROTC. He met Ann March as a sophomore, and the two married after her own graduation from Baylor in 1958.
“He had a dynamic personality. He was born happy,” Ann Strickland said. “And he was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever known.”
Gil Stricklin graduated before Ann, and he stayed close to Baylor’s campus by attending classes at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and working for local newspapers.
Stricklin graduated from Baylor with a commission in the United States Air Force, and once he and Ann were married, he was stationed at Donaldson Air Force Base in South Carolina. After three years of active duty, the family moved back to Fort Worth, where he pursued a degree in journalism from TCU while working for the Fort Worth Press and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspapers. During this time in Fort Worth, Stricklin also attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and received a bachelor’s degree in ministry. He would also go on later in his career to earn a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1983.
“Gil didn’t want to be a pastor, he wanted to be a layman,” Ann Stricklin said. “He felt that everyone could be a minister, serving the Lord in whatever capacity they could.”
In 1965, Stricklin was invited to join the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to serve in preparation for the upcoming World Congress on Evangelism and as a special assistant to Graham. Stricklin served in this capacity for six years, working with media, traveling the world and arranging press conferences. This global experience in ministry prepared Stricklin for his next role of service. In 1970, Stricklin and his family moved to Dallas, where he began work for the Baptist General Convention of Texas pioneering the Super Summer Youth Evangelism program, which continues today.
Stricklin served the BGCT for 15 years, during which time he also went to flight school and achieved both his instrument and multi-engine rating pilot licenses.
But Stricklin felt the call to people, so he transitioned from the Air Force to the Army, where he would have the opportunity to serve as a military chaplain. It was in this role that Stricklin served in Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield.
“He would go above and beyond what he was supposed to do in his chaplaincy work,” Ann said. “He had to get to know the person and the family and minister to them. It was just in his DNA.”
Stricklin graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 1973. In 1983, he graduated from the United States Army War College, only the seventh chaplain to do so. In 1986, he graduated from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.
After serving his country for 37 years — 15 years in the Air Force and 22 years in the Army — Stricklin retired in 1994 as a full Colonel from the U.S. Army.
Stricklin’s extensive service as a military chaplain led him to his next vocational call.
“God showed him that from his experience in the military, he can apply that to the secular workplace and care for people in the workplace. They don’t have to go to church, but they have to go to work.”
In 1983, Stricklin resigned from his job with the BGCT to found Marketplace Ministries in January 1984. The organization provides the same chaplain care to business employees that the U.S. Military offers to soldiers. Today, Marketplace Ministries serves more than 1,000 companies and utilizes the care of over 2,200 chaplains across the nation.
Whether in the military, youth program or the workplace, Stricklin’s priorities were for the care and nurturing of individuals. He knit together souls in need of nourishment to form communities of support and faith. His legacy of spiritual care is one that has ripple effects beyond his lifetime, and will continue for generations to come.