Alan Strain, a former assistant dean of student affairs known for his commitment to social justice, died of congestive heart failure on August 26 at his home in Santa Cruz. He was 79. Strain worked on campus in student affairs during the 1970s, including serving as a draft counselor and interim assistant dean for Native American affairs. During his tenure at Stanford, Strain helped create the Native American Cultural Center and organize the Stanford Powwow, helped found Synergy cooperative house and was at or near the center of student initiatives to serve communities beyond the campus boundaries, said Jim Lyons, dean emeritus of student affairs, who worked with Strain.
Strain anchored an important era at Stanford, Lyons said.
Alan had those rare magical qualities that enriched the lives of students and colleagues. He had special qualities of person, principle, social mission and compassion and was a master teacher in the informal curriculum of student affairs. His work bears fruits even today—30 years later.
In 1975, Strain was awarded the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for outstanding service to undergraduate education.
Strain was born on April 30, 1924, in Fairfield, Idaho, and moved with his family to Southern California in 1935. During World War II, he was a conscientious objector and served alternative service at a ranch for boys in the San Fernando Valley. He enrolled Stanford afterwards and, while there, he helped to organize a group of students to bring horses to Poland as part of a relief effort after World War II. He also met his first wife, Joanne Hunnicutt, at Stanford. She was remembered by many as the helpful children's librarian at the Menlo Park Library for many years.
After earning a bachelor's degree in psychology at Stanford in 1947 and attending graduate school at the School of Education, Strain taught school in Woodside and taught and served as principal at Peninsula School in Menlo Park. He was a founder of Pacific High School, an alternative school that operated near Los Gatos, teaching there until he left to serve as the western field secretary of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors.
He loved to design and build houses, said his son, Larry Strain. He built a home in Portola Valley off Westridge Drive, then renovated the family home, a 26-year project on Wayside Road in Portola Valley.
Mr. Strain also was active with the religious Society of Friends throughout his life. He served on the National Board of the American Friends Service Committee, and on two occasions, was a Friend in Residence at Pendle Hill, a Quaker study center in Pennsylvania.
Strain is survived by his second wife, Rosalie Pizzo Strain, of Santa Cruz; two brothers, Douglas Strain of Portland, Oregon, and Robert Strain of Indianapolis, Indiana; sons David Strain and Larry Strain of Berkeley, California; a daughter, Laurie Friedman of Davis, California; and 16 grandchildren.
Alan Strain Dead at 79, by Barbara Palmer, Stanford News Service, September 9, 2003.". Link
Alan Strain,1924–2003,” posted in the Synergy House section of Lee Altenberg’s Web site, September 17, 2003. Link
Alan Strain, August 26, 2003, by Laurie Friedman, Pacific High School Web site. Link"