Cover photo for Donald Richard Stricklin's Obituary
Donald Richard Stricklin Profile Photo
1943 Don 2023

Donald Richard Stricklin

September 20, 1943 — October 2, 2023

Saint George, UT

Don Stricklin, who dedicated his life to wife Debbie, his cats and the Texas criminal justice system, left gently with the angels on October 2, 2023.

Born Donald Richard Stricklin on September 20, 1943 in Baytown, Texas to Sammy Bowie Stricklin and Pauline Neiderhofer Stricklin, Don was a quintessential gentleman, best described as a cross between John Wayne and Perry Mason. His sense of duty and loyalty left no doubt where he stood on any subject. While in the courtroom, he pursued justice with quiet intelligence and procedural mastery. His perfectly coiffed hair and impeccable dress belied a devilish prankster with a rapier wit.

The son of a refinery worker and a stay-at-home mom, Don and his siblings learned at an early age that hard work was a way of life. He mowed lawns, worked as a roofer and a loading dock laborer while earning his way through school. He served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves during college. After graduating with a degree in business administration from the University of Houston, Don worked by day at the Texas State Comptroller’s Office so he could attend law school at night. Don obtained his law degree from South Texas College of Law and set his sights on becoming a prosecutor.

In 1973, Don became an assistant district attorney in Harris County, (Houston) Texas. During his tenure Don prosecuted major narcotics cases and complex major fraud matters. He was chief of the Organized Crime Division before becoming chief of the elite Harris County Special Crimes Bureau where he was responsible for handling high profile criminal cases: political corruption, major drug deals and murder-for-hire plots.

Don taught police cadets at the Houston Police Department Academy for 22 years and volunteered as an instructor at numerous Citizens’ Police Academy programs as well.

In 1987 Don was chosen to be first assistant district attorney. He managed the day-to-day operations of one of the nation’s largest prosecutor’s offices until 1999 when then Governor George W Bush appointed him as a Texas state judge of the 337th District Court. While his role in the criminal justice system changed, his values and principles never wavered. As in all aspects of his life, Don could be counted upon to do the right thing, even if the choice was difficult or unpopular.

In 2007 Don was chosen by his fellow district judges to be the Local Administrative Judge of Harris County. He retired from the bench in December 2008.

Don married his girlfriend Debbie Mantooth in 1995. The two met while both were working as prosecutors. They were alike yet different. They understood each other; she was his yin, and he was her yang. And Don discovered that real men really do love cats; they shared his love of a quiet routine.

In 2010, Don and Debbie left the excitement of the courtroom and the turmoil of Houston behind and moved with their three cats to the higher and drier climate of St George, Utah. Both had lived on the Texas gulf coast all their lives, but they were ready for a change from the humidity and hurricanes. They built a home with a view of the Virgin River Gorge and Pine Valley Mountain, and Don was able to devote more time to doing the things he truly loved: tending his yard, feeding the birds, and enjoying a gin and tonic on the back porch. Their daily morning walks and discussions of current events at cocktail hour were a part of a cherished routine that came with retirement. They found their refuge from the chaos of Houston in the peace and quiet of the red rock desert and its blue skies. They enjoyed their trips to Las Vegas or to the mountains of Park City, but always delighted in coming back home where they were happiest.

Although the pace of life was slower, Don didn’t stop helping; he volunteered to serve his community and was chosen to be President of the Sun River St George Board of Trustees.

Some things changed, others remailed the same. Don was an impeccable dresser with a hair seldom out of place. Although he no longer wore a suit and tie every day, he still color coordinated his running shoes with his exercise clothes. His dimple grin often showed with his dry sense of humor, yet he could keep a poker face throughout the best of pranks.

Don’s routines were written in stone, and he relished the regularity of his schedule. He had little tolerance for long drives, lengthy telephone conversations and slackers. He preferred time at home over socializing and crowds. You could often find him watching college football or an Astros game after finishing his chores. He loved to wind down with a Tom Clancy novel and a cat on his lap. Some say he hoarded Skippy extra crunchy peanut butter. His collection of running shoes put others to shame.

Don always had a project; he found joy in being industrious. He showed his love for you by doing for you. He took pride in simple beauty and a job well done. You could count on him to be active and outdoors whenever possible.

He was blessed to have a close relationship with his brothers and his sister, though they were separated by hundreds of miles, they spoke often.

Don was complicated, yet simple. He had a commanding presence in his professional life yet a quiet countenance and a compassionate, loving heart. He was intensely private and could always be trusted with any confidence. He never sought the limelight; he chose to be humble about his accomplishments. His work ethic was legendary; he took pride in helping others but was never one to ask for help for himself. He was independent, strong, loyal and forthright, a Texan through and through.

He is predeceased by his parents; his sister Mary Linda Stricklin and his brother-in-law Al Dennis. Left behind to cherish his memory are his wife Debbie and his beloved cat Abby; his brother James Stricklin and his wife JoAnn of Del Mar, California; his sister Paula Dennis of Georgetown, Texas and his brother Walter Stricklin of Baytown, Texas. Special thanks to the nurses and caregivers of Dixie Home Hospice who helped make Don’s final journey peaceful.

In keeping with his dislike of fanfare, there will be no funeral services. In lieu of flowers, if you are so inclined, please consider a donation to One More Chance Animal Rescue Onemorechance@infowest.com (PayPal) or Best Friends https://www.bestfriends.org

Vaya con Dios mi vida, Don. We love you, always.

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