A lover of classic wooden rowing boats and a loving father and friend. 

Darryl J. Strickler went out for a row on October 12th, 2015 and passed into eternity. He is survived by his five children and nine grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a son. He will be greatly missed and forever remembered by his family and friends.
Darryl John Strickler was born August 12th, 1942 in Coatesville, PA to C. Ray Strickler and Ruth Smith Strickler. He was the 8th of their 10 children. He started building boats and sculling at the age of 12 and enjoyed telling stories of his early outdoor adventures. He graduated from Millersville (PA) University in 1964 and from SUNY Buffalo with a Doctorate in Education in 1972. He worked in the field of education and also worked as a business consultant across the United States, England and Australia. He wrote several published books including Rowable Classics and Solar Spaces. He was also an architect who designed and built modern, innovative homes.
Darryl had a passion for wooden rowing shells. He owned and rowed literally hundreds of wooden single, sculling boats and wooden oars. He had firsthand experience with virtually every major sculling boatbuilder’s boat and oars. He wrote the book Rowable Classics that tells of the background and development that has gone into making single rowing sculls. He taught numerous people how to scull using personal instruction, video feedback and other innovative methods of instruction. After retiring from the business sector, he dedicated himself to the preservation and promotion of these “rowable classics.” He was known across the world for these efforts and his generosity in teaching and training other rowers, encouraging everyone to enjoy and commune with nature, and spend time on the water as he loved to do.
As we remember him, we can shed tears that Darryl is gone, or we can smile because he lived.
We can close our eyes and wish he would come back, or we can open our eyes and see all that he has left.
Our hearts may be empty because we cannot see him, or we can be full of the love we shared.
We can turn our back on tomorrow and live yesterday 
or we can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
We can remember Darryl and only that he is gone, or we can cherish the memories and let him live on.  
We can cry and close our mind, be empty and turn our back, or we can do what Darryl would want:
Smile, open our eyes and go on, think positively, and in his words, 
“Follow your passion, do good work… and Row Wood!”

Feel free to post tributes to Darryl in the comments section below. 
If you would like to add photos to this page, contact kristinraefarr@gmail.com.


  1. The D-man's Spirit was and still is BIGGER than life. He is with us forever. Your Dad's motto was simple, Follow your passion, do Good Work ....and Row Wood.

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    2. With your birthday having passed you seem to be even more ever present in my thoughts. As my birthday approaches my wife asked me to think of something FUN we might do together on My Day. Oddly a visit to see you in Thomaston was my first thought, I stopped myself before suggesting. still attempting to think of a Plan B. Be it our shared boats at Mosman or Manly sheds, or our launchings from my Sausalito shed or houseboat floats....thanks for many many fond memories.

  2. A tribute to my uncle Darryl John Strickler

    We were at a family reunion at Mount Gretna. My uncle Darrell recognized my athletic ability,. Alas, it was well after the age when I might've competed in the Olympics. My uncle brought an Olympic sized scull to the reunion.

    He said anyone who was interested should meet him down by the lake at Mount Gretna early in the morning and he would give some rowing lessons. I arrived at the appointed time and saw this magnificently skinny scull. The scull was about half as wide as half of one of my butt cheeks. My eyes must've been popping in near panic. Darryl took note of this and said "You only have to flip this boat if you choose to."
    This was quite a revelation to me given that it looked like flipping this "boat" was inevitable. As I sat on the boat and began to row, my very first time ever, I kept repeating to myself the thing my uncle had said, "You only have to flip this boat if you choose to"

    I rowed around the entire lake, returned to the point of origin, without ever flipping the boat. It was a brilliant concept to me that you only had to flip the boat if you wanted to.
    Well I didn't want to flip the boat, so I exercised my mighty will and the boat remained stable throughout the journey.

    It turns out that this lesson was a great metaphor for life. Over the course of time, this was but one of the many things that my dear uncle Darryl taught me.

    His body was reportedly found on the beach. Since he was a rowing enthusiast, I'm hoping that this means that his final moments here on Earth were spent doing what he loved as much as anything, rowing on the water. Row on for eternity uncle Darryl!

  3. Sadden to hear the news of my friend and colleague. My sincere condolences to his family.

    Robert P. Ross
    Ross Bros

  4. Darryl was always generous with his time and wisdom. We now have a wood boat in two more local boat houses now and I hope this is a comfort to his family. Even absent, he continues to influence rowers here when they admire and ROW WOOD!
    Dean Pocius

  5. My condolences to the Strickler family. I have known Darryl for about a decade. I spend summers in Maine and for five years I lived in the upstairs apartment of Darryl's boathouse in Thomaston. We spent a lot of time together. He recounted many terrific stories regarding his large family. He loved and admired his children very much. In Maine, he was the center of a summer community of rowers in Mid-coast area. He will be missed -- indeed, it is hard to imagine summers in Maine without him. -- Jeff Tulis

  6. As you go through life, you put together a "short list" of people you have been immensely fortunate to meet and call a friend. Darryl is on my short list for sure. I loved visiting him in Thomaston to talk about rowing (with beer and pretzels) and pestered him from time to time via email about one boat or another. He was always happy to help. I especially enjoyed the banter we had about me being "cheap". He'd say "Well you'd better go to Amazon or EBay because I don't have any junk here." -so true. Still makes me laugh.

    Thank you Darryl! Calm wind and flat water... Jeff Booth

  7. Strickler Family, I was so sorry to learn of your father's passing. I purchased my first wooden boat from your Dad seven years ago and fell in love with them much like your Dad. He was a great man who did such a service for the history and continuation of the wonderful sport of sculling. I wanted to let you know how much he will be missed.
    With my Condolences,
    Scott M. Bailey

  8. It was certainly a pleasure to have met him and own an Owen he used to have. So sad but what a way to depart ...

  9. Came here because of the fine book "rowable classics". RIP.

  10. Darryl, you celebrated your last birthday with us, Evening of August 12 2015 in Thomaston Maine. You were a kind man. You were a unique man. You were one of a kind. You were generous. You were a gentle man. We enjoyed our conversations with you and your hospitality. We will always remember you. Dana, Piet, Joe and Ilona

  11. Darryl had a wooden clinker whiff built by my late Uncle Sid Radley of V Radley and sons in England in the 19650s or 60s transported to the the USA. Darryl got Steve F to restore it. It was on show at a Wooden Boat show a no of years ago looking great. Darryl sent me a no pictures of the whiff.
    I bought a copy of Darryls beautiful book and I sent him a copy of my book the Radleys of The Lea 130 - years of boatbuilding and rowing.He kindly let me publish his pictures in my book. I believe he sold the whiff to a hank joseph who has purchased a copoy of of my book.
    Darryl encouraged me to wrote my book. I am very sad that he has passed away.
    Clive Radley in the UK

  12. I found this and wanted to share: http://heartheboatsing.com/2015/12/16/r-i-p-darryl-j-strickler-row-wood/

    1. In case you cannot activate the link, here is the content:

      R.I.P. Darryl J. Strickler – “Row Wood!”

      Darryl J. Strickler. Picture from rowwoodforever.com
      Darryl J. Strickler. Picture from http://www.rowwoodforever.com
      Göran R Buckhorn writes:

      In the latest issue of WoodenBoat (January/February 2016), in the section “Across the bar”, the magazine writes that Darryl J. Strickler has passed away at the age of 73. He died at the oars on 12 October when he was on his daily outing.

      Strickler, who was born 12 August 1942 in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, started sculling and building boats at the age of 12. To rowers around the world, he was forever connected with wooden racing and recreational shells. He literally owned hundreds of wooden boats and oars, and his knowledge of these wooden craft, built by boat builders and oar makers in the USA, England, Canada, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, he shared in his famous book Rowable Classics (2008), which I wrote about on HTBS on 7 September 2009, read the article here.

      I had the great pleasure of meeting him in the summer of 2009 at the WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. He was a kind man who was happy to talk about wooden boats to anyone who crossed his path, as he was also happy to teach numerous people how to scull and how to take care of a wooden shell. It was as he wrote in Rowable Classics: “But wherever you row: Row Wood!”

      Rowable Classics-cover

      If you would like to read more about Darryl Strickler and pay tribute to him, go to rowwoodforever.com

  13. Darryl, it was my pleasure to get to know you over the years, buying and selling boats and oars. You were the go to guy for advice and information about wooden shells and sculls.
    I loved visiting your boathouse in Maine and viewing some truly crave worthy boats and oars. I have been doing my best to follow your advice; " If you aren't enjoying what you are doing, stop doing it"
    All the best in the stars!

  14. My wife and I had the pleasure of spending several days with Darryl in Maine in August and found him to be a very patient and knowledgeable man. We enjoyed being in his boat house and learning about his various boats. He taught me how to row one of his wooden boats. My last contact with Darryl was in September about a King Fischer wood single scull located in Santee, California along with pocock wood oars. We are saddened to hear of his passing and will miss him greatly. I've been inspired by his book to row in my own life. -Patrick Mitchell

  15. Darryl (DOC) was a blessing in my life. We met decades ago at AT&T and developed a friendship. He was generous with knowledge, prepared with wisdom, and always armed with quick wit and a smile. He was a mentor to me, and a dear friend for 20 years, although we mainly stayed in touch on birthdays and with threats of visits or business ventures that too rarely came true.

    He found joy in helping others, and improving the world around him, one person at a time. His ripples spread wherever he splashed down for the season.

    I was able to visit him at his San Francisco flat where he told me stories about his ocean rowing through, unbeknown to him at the time, great white shark territories, and at his Chicago boathouse where he was able to enjoy life on his own terms, in a house he designed and built, and from the boats he restored, housed, and rowed every morning.

    The invitation to visit or to warm his home in his absence, and leave a scrawl in the guestbook, was always open.

    In life you meet a few people who become important. Like so many others, my circle is now smaller without Darryl. He was an old spirit who was always young and rich with life and laughter. I am sad to see you go but happy to have spent time knowing you, and am better for it. May you rest in true peace my dear friend.

  16. I fondly recall D.A.R.R.Y.L. from the AT&T daze in Dayton, Ohio, where he was a steadying presence, whether in the workplace or with coworkers seeing a film in a local arthouse theatre. I distinctly recall him responding to an lunchtime inquiry about dream interpretation (a dog had appeared in someone's dream) when he said something like this: Well, usually the pros will tell you that a dog represents trust or acceptance -- but what do the pros know? It's _your_ dream.

    Nice work, Doc. Always.

  17. I knew Darryl only briefly at AT&T-GIS (aka NCR) in Dayton, but I can second many of the kind comments made about him here. He was a wise and calming influence on a young team doing some interesting things to implement the "learn-by-doing" model for professional performance improvement. I was not aware of his passion for rowing and, in particular, wooden shells, but I would have loved to discuss it with him. My wife and I rowed for a couple of years with the Dayton Boat Club (formed after Darryl left the area) and I had some interesting experiences with outrigger canoes in Hawai'i. Would have loved to discuss those with him! My sincere condolences and best wishes to his family.

  18. Darryl was a great friend, and I was so sad to hear of his passing. I bought my current single scull from Darryl , and he and I also owned a double scull together which we raced at a number of regattas in the Midwest. I moved to California nine years ago, but we still stayed in touch. I learned a lot about the sport of sculling just from trying out the different shells he had restored. Darryl helped me in business too with some very good advice that he would offer as we drove along to different regattas. I miss him, but I know he has continued on somewhere, doing good things for others, as he just as he did here.

  19. I was at the Mosman rowing shed in Sydney one morning looking at an old wooden boat and Nick Garrett who is an Australian coach at the club told me it belonged to a guy from USA who collected wooden sculls. Nick gave me the contact number, and that began a great friendship with Darryl over the years.
    I also shared a love for all things wooden and I became the eyes and ears for Darryl in Australia- discussing, inspecting and arranging collection of boats for him.

    When he was in Australia on business, we rowed on a lake nearManly, close to Sydney City.
    He brought plans from USA for a local boat builder to build a beautiful lightweight canoe and a recreational scull which we both paddled on the lake and also Sydney harbour near the Manly Ferry Wharf where he stored the boat in the old rowing and sailing club sheds.

    I remember one morning at breakfast after an early row I asked Darryl how many sculls he usually had at one time , and he replied " about 100 " The only response that I could think of at the time was " Well , there is nothing wrong with compulsive & obsessive is there "
    He simply said. " No " and we both broke up laughing.

    Darryl was always willing to offer advice to all who sought it from him. He pursued his sport which extended to his passionate hobby of preserving old sculls and oars, and always said that when I phoned him that he had a great row that morning - which was a daily event for him as he moved from boat house to boat house chasing the sun.

    Darryl's book- " Rowable Classics " is a lasting tribute to him, and his untiring work compiling information on boatbuilders around the world and their boats is unequalled . One of which is my boat , built in Australia by Sargent& Burton.

    Darryl was a great guy, - I think we could call him a legend, and we wish you all the best Darryl, And we will row wood with you again one day.

    Wooden Scull owner

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  21. Good-by old freind, may your eternal water be smooth. -Frank Dolezal

  22. Darryl and I were friends through high school and college. We came back into each others life now and then, enjoying a visit at the boat house in Maine (my ancestral home town), summer in PA and a visit to his lovely home he designed in Chicago. He was an great host and we spent fun times on these visits. We were planning to meet at our Hershey High School reunion in October but it didn't happen. His life style led me to believe he'd be around a long time for us to have many more "catch up" visits. My life choices have been influenced by sharing time with Darryl.

  23. Deeply sorry to hear this. I was actually just about to email him to ask about what my third shell might be. He had offered so much over last six years. I have a small window to head up to Maine and for once I am solo. I wanted to stop by. Thanks a ton.

  24. This week, I started thinking about Darryl and decided to google his name today. I met Darryl 28 years ago and am sad to say that I lost touch with him the last 10 years. I am saddened by his passing. We enjoyed together our work, he was a colleague in the Arthur Anderson and NCR days, conversations, food and friendship. I am sad that he is gone and will always remember him and love him. His friend and colleague, Jeanette R M

  25. I never met Mr. Strickler, but I really love Rowable Classics - the chapter on Helmut Schoenbrod, in particular, is amazing to read. I've loaned it to people at my boat club (Community Rowing in Boston), and they are all big fans of the book, especially the people who "row wood". I think it's awesome when people have a passion for something cool and just throw themselves into it. Darryl's love for wooden boats is an inspiration!

  26. My husband and I met Darryl in Rockport, TX at a gathering at our neighborhood point. It was so interesting chatting with him. He picked up on my accent so quickly that he was able to determine about where I came from (didn't think I had an accent, but no Texan though lived here the longest). A very interesting man and though saddened by his death when it occurred, was happy to learn he was doing what he loves as he passed away. He was so willing to help anyone. He is missed by many.

  27. My husband and I met Darryl in Rockport, TX at a gathering at our neighborhood point. It was so interesting chatting with him. He picked up on my accent so quickly that he was able to determine about where I came from (didn't think I had an accent, but no Texan though lived here the longest). A very interesting man and though saddened by his death when it occurred, was happy to learn he was doing what he loves as he passed away. He was so willing to help anyone. He is missed by many.

  28. It was August 12 1942 when the world first saw your light (translated from German bonmot "Als die Welt Dein Licht erblickte")
    When we first met and we only met that one time, you had been truly astonished that i was exactly, almost to the hour, a day earlier and since that first meet, the 8.12 was our day to call - i miss you Darryl, young man. Row on. Urs

  29. I just found out about Darryl's passing last night. Was saddened briefly, until started thinking about conversations and situations that we experienced. Immediately brought tearing laughter. I can truly say that knowing you was a gift, a privilege, and blessing. Row on my friend. LP

  30. Thinking fondly of Darryl this day. My wonderful neighbor - man of mystery, quiet and deep. His generous, enigmatic spirit lives on endlessly flowing like our beloved Fox River into eternity. I know I'll feel him close by these early October days winds gusting, yellow leaves and white clouds flying in the brilliant blue sky. It was a privilege to know you, Darryl -

  31. Darryl was a salesman as well. I remember visiting his boathouse on a warm summer Saturday when the water was low in the river, and he managed to convince me to try out three different boats after loaning me a pair of rowing shorts and a t-shirt.

    I ended up buying a Kaschper that I am still rowing today, although not as often as I once did. Darryl is fondly remembered whenever I take out the boat.

  32. I am a rower and amateur boatbuilder. Six years ago I spent 18 months building my own single scull, during which time Darryl's book "Rowable Classics" was a constant source of ideas and inspiration. I emailed him my thanks together with a photograph of the boat, and was overwhelmed by his response. He wanted to know every detail of how and why, and offered advice for next time. His inspiration and enthusiasm crossed the Atlantic and touched me here in England

  33. Darryl was a wonderful host to my wife and me during a visit to Thomaston and Rockland, ME around 6 years ago. He left the community a valuable wooden boat book, and a marketplace for rowing and sculling boats. I am grateful to have known him and to have learned from him.

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  36. I think I met Darryl in 2008 or 2009. I was living in Suburban Chicago and wanted to get into rowing. He would not let me buy a boat without first coming out to his boathouse on the river in St. Charles. He gave me a few hours of his time and the use of a restored wood training shell to make sure I would like it. I will never forget the first time I got into the boat he had me row arms only while he held the stern of the boat. Then he let go and before my first stroke he said "oh, and one more thing; there are only two kinds of rowers in the world. Those that have been in the water and those that are about to go into the water." Two strokes later I was in the water, and he was on the dock laughing with a sparkle in his eye. I ended up buying a Dirigo he found for me and rowed that boat out of the St Charles Boathouse until he passed away. He was a good friend and a generous teacher. I feel fortunate to have had him in my life. Matt Broad

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  38. I bought a boat from Darryl in 1999. An '84 Van Dusen Advantage. It was a club boat, and I suspect that most who read this note have rowed it also. I had a great first row on the body of water I had been seeing all my life from the freeway, and a great time meeting and speaking with Darryl. Rest in peace.

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