Old Bridge Preservation Society volunteer spotlight: Gerry Strickland

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During Labor Day weekend, the Old Bridge Preservation Society (OBPS) completed another successful summer at the old bridge. Now OBPS membership is looking forward to fall events.
Throughout the summer, OBPS volunteers were pleased that visitors recognized the positive changes to the old bridge since last summer, such as new landscaping, improvements to the tender house, and accessibility.
Locals and visitors shared stories and memories and what this iconic bridge in Sunset Beach meant to them.
Much of what is at the old bridge would not have been possible without voluntary and financial support from those interested in the society.
One of the society’s most stalwart volunteers has been Gerry Strickland, who was with OBPS before it was an official organization.
After the new Mannon C. Gore Bridge opened, but when the old bridge was still in place and tied open, Strickland meticulously took measurements of key elements and then made detailed drawings.
This work was a tremendous help as English Construction planned the move of the old bridge to the new site on Shoreline Drive in Sunset Beach. He worked closely with the construction firm and did extensive site work for the placement of the old bridge in 2011.
In addition to helping with the move of the actual bridge, Strickland used those same measurements and drawings in his workshop to construct an exact scale model of the old bridge.
Using his engineering experience, talent for woodworking and attention to detail, he made a working-scale model of the bridge that has delighted and educated hundreds of visitors to the bridge.
Once a week during the summers of 2011 and 2012, he brought his scale model to the old bridge site and explained to visitors the engineering, science, math and ingenuity involved in the construction and maintenance of the bridge when it was in its original home. He shared anecdotal information about the bridge and the surrounding environment. He was often joined by former bridge tenders, like Al Theimer and Roger McPherson, who shared their own stories.
From fall 2011 through spring 2012, Strickland facilitated the installation of helical anchors to secure the bridge to the ground, designed and built (with volunteer help) the ramp on the north end of the bridge and then singlehandedly moved the platform at the south end of the bridge in preparation for the installation of pilings (which he had designed).
He coordinated and supervised the work to install the pilings, re-install the platform and secure it to the pilings. His engineering background has allowed the Old Bridge Preservation Society to move closer to the establishment of an interpretive center at the Old Bridge site.
Strickland has been a constant source of support, encouragement and enthusiasm for the work of OBPS. He has been a listening ear, a source of contacts, an occasional reality check, and most of all, a friend. He is one example of an OBPS volunteer.
The organization is actively seeking new volunteers to help achieve its goals. If interested in helping the Old Bridge Preservation Society in some way, visit its website at www.oldbridgepreservationsociety.org and select “How You Can Help” to explore the volunteer opportunities available.
Visit the old bridge from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. every Saturday, weather permitting, and you’ll find volunteers like Strickland hard at work, helping to take the Old Bridge Preservation Society another step closer to achieving its vision.