York civil rights leader dies

Alyssa Pressler
  • Lee Ann Strine died Feb. 18.
  • Strine was a longtime member of the local NAACP chapter.
  • Strine was the first white president of the local NAACP chapter, and was active in the community.

Lee Ann Strine, a NAACP member and former president, a minister and a community activist, died Feb. 18. She was 67.

According to a Facebook post made by the UCC Penn Central Conference Green Justice Ministry Team, which Strine was involved in, Strine was believed to have had a stroke at home. Paramedics tried to revive her on the way to the hospital but were unsuccessful.

Lee Ann Strine

Strine was an  active member of the York County community, friends and associates said. She was perhaps most well-known for her time as president of the local chapter of the NAACP. She served in that position from January 2009 until current president Sandra Thompson took over in 2011.

At the time she became president, Strine had been a member of the local chapter for more than 12 years, according to York Dispatch archives. She served as the first vice president under the previous chapter president, Eric Kirkland, and was the secretary  of the local chapter for most of the years she was a member, according to NAACP assistant treasurer Ken Woerthwein. As secretary, Strine communicated with the state and national NAACP offices, kept track of memberships and wrote up all notes at meetings,Woerthwein said.

"She was very enthusiastic," Woerthwein said. "She was a great advocate for getting new members."

At the time of her death, Strine was serving as the chapter's assistant secretary so she could focus on her grandchildren and other volunteer activities, according to Thompson. Strine consistently attended state and national NAACP meetings as well as the local ones.

Thompson described Strine as someone who liked to be busy and who always had a smile on her face.

"Whatever you needed, if she could, she would," Thompson said.

Everyone who spoke of Strine talked about her love for volunteering, children and human rights. They also fondly remembered her laugh and smile, which were always present.

"The thing that stands out most about Lee Ann is, no matter what ... was going on in her life, she was always so incredibly cheerful," said NAACP Secretary Kathleen Lucas.

Lucas remembered a time when Strine fell and had hurt her face pretty badly. Lucas picked her up from the hospital and was shocked to find Strine not only smiling, but laughing and joking about the fall, despite the pain she was in.

"She was always laughing," Lucas said.

Lucas said she  met Strine when she was working with asylum-seekers from different countries  in the late 90s.

In 2001, Strine took in two asylum-seekers from Sierra Leone after they were incorrectly jailed upon arriving in York, according to York Dispatch archives. She took an interest in the asylum seekers during her time as a volunteer with the Golden Vision Foundation, a organization established to help undocumented immigrants from China.

Strine was  a licensed pastor of the York Association of the United Church of Christ, according to a Facebook post the group made about her death. According to Carla Christopher, who was going through a program similar to Strine's, the activist began taking classes through the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry. She had just graduated at the end of 2016.

When Strine found out Christopher was taking courses through the same academy of ministry, she reached out and offered herself as a mentor and study partner for Christopher. The two also knew each other through their work on the executive committee for the south-central Pennsylvania chapter of the ACLU.

"She was always positive, and in activism, you get exhausted," Christopher said. She said Strine didn't view activism as something she should do, but something she needed to do through her faith.

"She really believed there was as spiritual, moral obligation to do social justice work and activism," Christopher said. "It came from a spiritual place for her.

Strine's funeral is set for 11 a.m.  Saturday, Feb. 25 at Faith UCC, 509 Pacific Ave., York. Burial is to  take place at 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 27, in Mount Olivet Cemetery, 725 Baltimore St., Hanover.