Jan. 10, 1933 – Nov. 9, 2021
David G. Strachan was sitting at the annual Nichols School alumni luncheon in December 1956 when the longtime headmaster, Philip M. B. Boocock, approached him from behind, grabbed his shoulders and told him, “I want you in my office Monday morning.”
Mr. Strachan, a 1951 graduate of the school, complied. At that meeting, Boocock made him an offer: “I want you teaching here in September.”
Mr. Strachan went on to a 45-year career as a teacher at Nichols and was longtime chair of its Mathematics Department.
He died Nov. 9 in St. Catherine Laboure Health Care Center in Sisters Hospital after a brief illness. He was 88.
Born in Buffalo, he was the grandson of Col. Charles Clifton, chairman of the board of the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Co. He first attended the Elmwood School, now the Elmwood-Franklin School, and was enrolled at Nichols as a fifth grader. He went on to play varsity hockey and football at Nichols.
Going on to Middlebury College, he was goalie on the hockey team and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He later earned a master’s degree in teaching from Harvard University.
At Nichols, Mr. Strachan was credited with introducing the school’s computer class in the late 1960s and with organizing its first lacrosse team.
In the late 1960s, he earned a National Science Foundation scholarship to study at Bowdoin College in Maine, where he earned a master’s degree. He also took summer continuing education classes at Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He and his family spent the 1970-71 school year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where he was awarded an honorary visiting lectureship.
Mr. Strachan was junior varsity hockey coach and was especially proud of his 1965-66 “golden oldies team,” which included seven seniors whom he successfully lobbied to keep on the roster. Several of those players remained lifelong friends.
Known as a demanding teacher, he nevertheless had a playful side. He and his colleague Kim Kimberly founded a seventh- and eighth-grade softball league with fanciful team names like the Swormville Bees. They competed to play in “The World’s Serious” and finished the season with an elaborate mock awards ceremony.
Mr. Strachan was honored with a lifetime achievement award from Nichols in 2000 and the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007.
He and his older brother, Malcolm, established the first fund at Nichols to provide summer stipends to faculty members who are attending conferences, revising curriculum or pursuing graduate programs.
He served on the boards of the Elmwood-Franklin School and Buffalo Seminary. He was a 62-year member of the Saturn Club and a member of the Pierce-Arrow Society.
Beginning in 1936, Mr. Strachan spent every summer at his family’s second home in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he enjoyed the Arundel Beach Club, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church and riding in his Mini Moke beach buggy.
Survivors include his wife of 66 years, the former Joan Rieckelman, a travel agent; a daughter, Alice Barr; four sons, Charles, James, Edward and David Jr.; and nine grandchildren.
A celebration of his life will be arranged at Nichols next spring.