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Thursday February 11th, 2016 12:15PM

Crystal Farms founder, civic leader dies

By Ken Stanford Reporter
CHESTNUT MOUNTAIN - The founder of Crystal Farms and a pioneer in the poultry and egg industry in Georgia who was also instrumental in bringing a state college to Hall County has died.

Loyd Strickland, 87, Chestnut Mountain, died Friday at his home.

Just a year ago, the Gainesville State College Foundation dedicated the Loyd Strickland Academic Building on the campus of what is now the University of Georgia/Gainesville.

Strickland was a member of the Gainesville-Hall County Education Task Force in the 1960s which obtained permission by the state Board of Regents to build a Junior College in the county and was also instrumental in bringing Lanier Technical College to the community. Also known for his philanthropy, Strickland's support and commitment to the college continued over the years as he served on the College Foundation Board and the school's Board of Trustees. He was later named an Honorary Life Trustee.

In addition to his close association with the college he helped bring to Hall County, Strickland served as a trustee of Rabun Gap School and the University of Georgia Foundation and was a longtime supporter of Brenau University.

He was among the first in the community to throw his support behind Eagle Ranch, the Christ-centerrd facility near Chestnut Mountain for young boys and girls in crisis. Eddie Staub, the founder and executive director of Eagle Ranch, has said Strickland's "initial contribution to this undertaking was the first grant we received."

In 2002, Strickland was inducted into the Georgia Egg Commission Hall of Fame.

"It was an honor but I don't think I was the best candidate," he said at the time. "But I'm very appreciative to recognized by those in the industry."

Executive Director for the Commission Robert Howell said the award recognizes people of character and integrity.

"(Mr.) Strickland's company grew from a two-man hatchery to the largest integrated egg firm in the state," said Robert Howell, Executive Director of the Georgia Egg Commission. "Crystal Farms enjoys a relationship with its contract farmers that is said to be business-like and fair, which is a true testimony to his unquestioned honor and integrity."

Strickland, who retired many years prior to his induction, said it came as a surprise.

"I've been out of the egg business for a long time so it was kind of a surprise to get the award," he remarked. "But that just goes to show that what they say about egg people is true: 'Old egg men don't fade away, they just crack up.'"

Strickland was a former member of the state Highway Board (now the state Department of Transportation Board of Directors), a former director of the Gainesville-Hall County Chamber of Commerce (now the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce), and a former director and officer of the Gainesville-Hall County Hospital Authority.

He was a longtime supporter of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

His civic club resume is vast, including Civitan Club, Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, and the Chestnut Mountain Ruritan Club. In 1992, Strickland received the Youth Service Award from the Gainesville Kiwanis Club.

Funeral arrangements will be announced later by Little-Davenport Funeral Home.

(AccessNorthGa.com's Jeff Hart and former staff writer Kelsey Bagwell contributed to this story.)
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