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Poultry pioneer, community leader Loyd Strickland dies

Crystal Farms founder was key figure in Gainesville State College, I-985

POSTED: September 6, 2013 11:47 p.m.

Loyd Strickland, a poultry pioneer and key player in Hall County’s development in education and transportation, died Friday. He was 87.

Strickland, of Chestnut Mountain, devoted much of his life to the poultry business as founder of Chestnut Mountain Hatchery in 1947. It later became Crystal Farms, one of the state’s top egg producers. He sold the company in 1987 to three of his top managers.

Abit Massey, president emeritus of the Georgia Poultry Federation, knew Strickland through their mutual longtime involvement in the industry.

“He was chairman for several years of the Georgia Poultry Improvement Association, an advisory group to the poultry lab at Oakwood, and he did an excellent job with that. He was also interested in poultry programs at the University of Georgia,” Massey said, which helped buffer programs there.

But more than his contributions to the poultry industry, which were widespread, Massey said Strickland set an example for all to live by.

“He was just a gentleman’s gentleman,” he said. “He was a fine person, one of those folks you could set your watch by what he told you.”

Massey said Strickland leaves a “tremendous legacy that will continue for many years.” In particular, he said, was his impact on Gainesville State College and the Interstate 985 corridor.

Strickland was a member of the Hall County Task Force in the early 1960s that obtained permission for the Board of Regents to build a junior college.

“I was always very grateful to him,” Martha Nesbitt, retired president of the former Gainesville State College, said of Strickland’s support of the college.

“I had approached him before, and he said, ‘I don’t want anything named after me,’” Nesbitt recalled. “When it came close to my retiring, I called his current wife Pam and told her what we we’re doing, and said, ‘He really needs to have something on the campus significant named after him.’”

The Loyd Strickland Academic Building was christened at a 2012 ceremony.

“He was a very generous man. He supported many causes in the Gainesville community,” she said.

A confidant of former Gov. Carl Sanders, Strickland was appointed to the state highway board in 1964 and he served for five years. He was a key player in the development of I-985, which provided a gateway to what is now the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus and Lanier Technical College. The interchange that connects to the college also bears his name.

“It’s appropriate that interchange ... is the Loyd Strickland interchange. That’s very appropriately named,” Massey said.

Massey said Strickland was an active member of his church in Chestnut Mountain, and that he held a deep love for Hall County.

“He loved this area, and was very good to it in many ways,” he said. “His health had been bad, so he had not been in the mainstream for awhile, but he’s one of the most outstanding citizens in Northeast Georgia and Hall County.”

Funeral services have not been announced. Little & Davenport Funeral Home in Gainesville is in charge of arrangements.


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