Strong, reverend, educator, and scholar, dedicated the majority
of his life to conducting missionary work in East Asia, Africa
and Europe. Strong was born to Tracy Strong (1887-1968) and Edith
Robbins Strong (1885-1981) on November 24, 1912 in Seattle, Washington.
His parents, both OC ’08, were also passionate in maintaining
the Christian faith. His father joined the staff of the World Alliance
of YMCAs in 1923, forcing the family to relocate to Geneva, Switzerland
by way of traveling through East Asia. In Geneva, he attended local
primary and secondary schools, where at an early age he became
bi-lingual in English and French. Strong re-located to the United
States in 1930, where he began his undergraduate education at Oberlin
As an Oberlin-in-Shansi representative of OC ‘34, Strong spent
three years in China teaching English at the Oberlin Shansi Memorial
Schools in Taiku, Shansi Province, China. He returned to Oberlin
College for the academic year 1937-1938 and enrolled in Oberlin’s
Graduate School of Theology where he earned a Master’s Degree
in 1938 and a Divinity Degree from Yale University in 1940. He
then served on the First World Youth Conference held in Amsterdam
summer of 1939, and returned to Yale just a few weeks before WWII
began in Europe.
Strong married Katherine Burr Stevenson on September 2, 1939.
After spending their first year at Yale University, they were commissioned
in the fall of 1940 as missionaries by the American Board of Commissioners
for Foreign Missions to teach in Northern China, which was then
under Japanese occupation. Increasing Japanese pressure in China
and his wife in to an internment camp in Shantung Province in 1941.
It was there that their first son Tracy was born.
The Strongs were released to return to the United States in 1943,
where they settled back at Oberlin. After the war, he relocated
with his family to China in the spring of 1947 and was granted
with the International Committee of the YMCAs of the USA in Nanking,
China in 1949. The Communists eventually ousted Strong and his
American colleagues in 1950, forcing them to relocate northeast
Korea and later to Japan.
Strong’s family preceded him to the Unites States, where
they eventually settled in New Jersey. However, Strong remained
in his professional endeavors. As a Secretary for Intermovement
Aid and Extension for the World Alliance of YMCAs in Geneva, Switzerland
(1954-1962), Strong expanded his missionary work to establishing
YMCAs in Africa and Asia. In 1962, Strong joined the United Church
Board for World Ministries in New York City, which required numerous
missionary trips to Europe (1962-1967). Five years later, he joined
the World Council of Churches in Geneva to work with the Commission
on World Mission and Evangelism (1967-1978) until he retired January
Strong died on June 29, 1999 in Pitzer Lodge of Pilgrim Place
in Claremont, California. His wife, Katherine Burr Strong, died
October 6, 1999. They are both survived by their three children
Jeanne Strong, and John Strong.