Pinnacle senior leader Herman Strickland dies at 60

By , Daily Memphian Updated: April 06, 2020 4:18 PM CT | Published: April 06, 2020 3:56 PM CT

This past Sunday evening, it was Herman Strickland’s turn to lead prayer at New Olivet Worship Center in Cordova.

<strong>Herman Strickland</strong>

Herman Strickland

With churches now holding services online due to COVID-19, the longtime deacon had sent his 10-minute recorded prayer to New Olivet pastor Rev. Kenneth Whalum Jr. earlier that week.

In his prayer, Strickland asked for God to help them get through the pandemic. His recorded prayer was played hours after he died at the age of 60 in his sleep earlier Sunday, April 5.

“In the meantime, Lord help us to endure, Lord,” Strickland said. “Please help us to stay as safe as we possibly can, Lord. Help us to get through this.”

Those who knew Herman Strickland described him as a mentor, worshipper, leader and someone you could always count on.

Strickland was a senior vice president and credit officer for Pinnacle Financial Partners in Memphis since 2015. He also worked at First Tennessee Bank for more than 30 years.

He leaves two children and his wife, Rhonda Strickland.

Kirk Bailey, Pinnacle Financial Partners president, said Strickland was a person people went to when they wanted some “wisdom” or to talk things through before making a key decision.

“He was a great representative of Pinnacle to the community,” Bailey said. “He was a mentor and coach to a lot of people. Herman was a fun guy. He naturally attracted people to him, because he had a lot of personality. He was always self-depreciating, and could make people comfortable and happy to be around him.”

Whalum knew Strickland for 30 years and said he was a great family man. He also said the word that comes to mind with Strickland was “worshipper.”

He remembers during the call to worship at the start of each service, Strickland would come to the altar in his “banker’s suit” and “fully prostrate and lay down before the Lord.”

“I’m not understating what an impact it could have if the world could see that, among our business and political leadership,” Whalum said. “It is the ultimate act of humility.”

Before he joined Pinnacle in 2015, Strickland spent 34 years at First Tennessee Bank, where he led the company’s diversity banking group. In his time at First Tennessee, which began in 1981, he also served as a corporate relationship manager, senior credit officer and manager of commercial banking.

When John Daniel started at First Tennessee in 2006 -- it is now First Horizon Bank -- Strickland was one of the first people he met. Strickland was key to helping build a great culture and diversity efforts at First Tennessee, Daniel said.

Strickland’s biggest impact at First Tennessee was formally and informally mentoring dozens of employees, said Daniel, senior executive vice president, chief human resource officer at First Horizon.

Daniel said he had received numerous calls and emails from First Horizon employees who were “heartbroken” over Strickland’s death.

“Still to this day, (Strickland) has many friends in the company and is widely respected and admired,” Daniel said.

In addition to being a deacon, he was also a board member on the Olivet Baptist Credit Union, one of the few church-owned, federally regulated credit unions in Tennessee.

Strickland and his wife ran New Olivet’s married couples’ ministry for 10 years. He also was involved in the Rights of Passage ministry, where he mentored young men, Whalum said.

“He was always involved,” Whalum said. “It was important for those little boys to be able to hug and eat with and talk with someone who was well-versed in multi-millionaire interactions on a daily basis. It was beautiful.”

Strickland had a bachelor’s degree in management from Arkansas State University and a master’s degree in finance from the University of Memphis. He also graduated from the Darden School of Commercial Lending at the University of Virginia.

Strickland was also a former instructor at the Barret School of Banking at Christian Brothers University.

He served on many boards throughout his career, according to Pinnacle’s website. Some of those boards were the Memphis Urban League, Benjamin Hooks Institute, Community Lift and Leadership Memphis.

“He felt like as we were helping to take care of the banking needs of clients, he also wanted to be involved in the community those clients served,” Bailey said. “Herman just had a huge heart for Memphis.”

Whalum said Strickland also played a part in black entrepreneurship in Memphis, and made it a point to bring others along with him as he found success.

“We probably will be not fully aware of (his impact) until down the road when those businesses begin to spin off other businesses and open new locations and that kind of thing,” Whalum said. “The mark of a real leader is someone who brings other people along and pushes them into a better and bigger manifestation of themselves and his legacy will bear that out.”


Pinnacle Financial Partners First Tennessee Bank First Horizon Herman Strickland
Omer Yusuf

Omer Yusuf

Omer Yusuf covers Bartlett and North Memphis neighborhoods for The Daily Memphian. He also analyzes COVID-19 data each week. Omer is a former Jackson Sun reporter and University of Memphis graduate.


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