Johnny Strong died on Jan. 25, 2024 at Regal Care Nursing Home in Harwich, surrounded by family. The cause was vascular dementia. He was 86.
One of 13 children of Gladys and Earl Strong, Johnny was born on Jan. 20, 1938 in Hazard, Ky., where he grew up. His father died young after working in the coal mines, and his mother raised the children in challenging financial circumstances.
According to Johnny’s daughter, Adrianne, he was “a phenomenal basketball player in high school.” Offered a basketball scholarship at the University of Kentucky, he headed to Lexington after high school in 1956. Not having appropriate clothes for college, he wore his grandfather’s suit and shoes, which he had to stuff with newspaper to make fit. When he arrived on campus and saw a sea of privileged kids, he panicked and went back home. Soon thereafter he joined the Air Force. He trained as an air traffic controller and taught himself how to work with computers.
After being assigned to the North Truro Air Force Station, he met Joyce Ann Perry at a dance. At the time, Joyce, a Provincetown Catholic, was engaged to a young Irishman, but when she met Johnny, a Kentuckian raised in the Pentecostal Church, “snake handlers and all,” Adrianne said, she fell in love.
Joyce and Johnny married on June 6, 1959, and although her family kept him at arm’s length in the early years of their marriage, “they came to love him,” Adrianne said.
Johnny and Joyce had four daughters, and during his 20-year Air Force career the family followed Johnny on assignments to New York, Minnesota, and Maryland. When he was posted to Vietnam, Guam, and Alaska, the family remained in Provincetown, which became Johnny’s adopted home when he retired.
“He felt like he was born and raised here,” said Adrianne. “He just loved knowing everyone. Every Sunday, he took his family to Hatch’s Harbor,” where they would stay from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m.
Johnny served on Provincetown’s finance committee and worked for several years as the head of the Provincetown Parking Dept.
A longtime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Provincetown Post, he served as its commander “at a time when the post was losing World War II and Korean War veterans,” said Marine veteran Paul Mendes. “He was a hard-working commander.”
Johnny served the community in less visible ways. “He used to buy old computers at yard sales,” Adrianne said, “and he would refurbish them, then load them with children’s games. He gave them to local kids in need.”
Johnny’s greatest accomplishment, his family said, was rearing four daughters and seeing his three grandchildren grow into adults.
He is survived by daughters Adrianne Holway of North Truro and Johnna King and husband Timmy of Wellfleet; grandchildren Taylor Daley and husband Nick of Brewster, Brenna King of Wellfleet, and Chase King of Wellfleet; brother Bo Strong of Georgia; and many nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his wife, Joyce, and his daughters Kelley and Damianne.
Arrangements are being made for a graveside Veterans Military Honors Service at the Provincetown Catholic Cemetery. A celebration of Johnny’s life will be held in the spring.
To share a memory or leave a condolence visit doanebealamesharwich.com.