James Strong, 79 James Knox Strong, 79, longtime California community activist and political campaign organizer for state and local officials including Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh and former Governor Edmund G. Brown, died December 13 at Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center in Harbor City after a long illness. The cause was congestive heart failure. Born in Medina, New York on January 25, 1927, Strong studied at Columbia University before enlisting in the U.S. Navy and serving in World War II. He returned to enroll in the University of Miami, where he became active in student politics and worked on campaigns for U.S. Senator Claude Pepper (FL). After graduating with a B.B.A. in Government, Strong joined the Army Reserve during the Korean War and served as an Army information and education specialist, supervising a current affairs program for 5000 men. He moved to Los Angeles in 1952 and quickly became involved in local Democratic politics, through the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee. He was active in all the assembly campaigns for Jesse Unruh, who served as best man at Strong's wedding in 1957. He organized many get-out-the-vote drives in Southern California for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson as well as Unruh and other state and local elected officials. Passionate about American History and the political process, Strong received his M.A. degree in Government from California State University at Los Angeles. He spent 14 years as a teacher of history and government in inner-city Los Angeles senior and adult high schools, and lectured in political science at Loyola-Marymount University and also taught community organization at Pepperdine University. Later in life he was an active volunteer and served on the staff of the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Wilmington. As a community organization consultant and director of behavioral health programs for several decades, he served a long list of clients and agencies, including the CORO Foundation, YMCA, City of Pasadena, the California Museum of Science and Industry, and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. He was the founder and first executive director of Behavioral Health Services, a drug and alcohol treatment center located in the South Bay. An avid reader, Strong helped establish the Redondo Beach Library Foundation and served on its board. A member of Manhattan Beach Community Church, Strong had lived in Redondo Beach since 1973. He leaves behind his wife, Mary of nearly 50 years; a daughter, Judith Strong Jorgensen and her husband Gregory of San Jose, Calif.; and a son, James Knox Strong, Jr. and his wife Nancy of Ventura, Calif. A private memorial service is being coordinated at a future date.

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  1. Dear Mrs. Strong and family, I enjoyed my visits with Jim Strong very much and was amazed by his clear memories, vivid enthusiasm and commitment to encouraging young students at USC. I am grateful to have met and known him, and to have benefited from his ideas which we will continue to implement. I realize this must be a very painful time for you, and send you my heartfelt condolences – also on behalf of the USC Unruh Institute students and leaders. May the new year bring you comfort. Susan Wilcox

  2. I always enjoyed talking with Jim because we both loved politics and public policy. Beyond his huge contributions to the community and the state, he was a meaningful person in my life.

  3. Deepest condolences to the Strong family during this difficult time. Jim was such a kind and dedicated colleague. His concern for social issues and his unwavering,selfless, commitment to making life better was inspirational to all. I met him as a member of the Redondo Beach Library Commission and was impressed by his vast knowledge of how things work in government and, better yet, how to get things done. He virtually single-handedly created the Redondo Beach Library Foundation, a feat only he could have done, given his vast background in administrative and legislative arenas. I will forever remember his kind support to me personally, in helping me with various library related projects. He was a dedicated commissioner and Friend of the Library. In fact he was a friend to all, one who did make a difference in the quality of life in the South Bay. The world has lost a good soul but it is truly heaven’s gain.

  4. Dear Mary, I just learned about Jim’s death. Although it has been a long time since I have seen either of you, I want you to know that I have often thought about Jim and the important role that he had played in my life. Without his encouragement, it is unlikely that I would have ever found a career in legislative politics. (Should I blame him or thank him?) I also remember fondly the many visits to your home in Morningside Park and especially remember his and your sense of adventure when you would find a new experience such as the discovery of the new Indian restaurant in downtwon Inglewood near LaBrea. I pray that you and your children will soon experience a return to normalcy. Fred

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