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Catherine Strong

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Catherine Strong

Catherine Strong (1911-1963) was born Catherine Elizabeth Link in New York and moved to Delray Beach with her family about 1920, when her father was a craftsman with Mizner Industries. In 1923 he became general contractor for Del-Ida Park and built the family home there, at Northeast Second Avenue and Dixie Boulevard. At sixteen, Catherine played trombone in the Women’s Business Band; at eighteen, she married Samuel F. Stanton of West Palm Beach. She returned to Delray Beach and married Milton J. “Jack” Strong in 1939.

Strong was the first woman in Palm Beach County to be called for jury duty, in January 1950. She started as a clerk at Delray Beach City Hall and was elected to the city commission three times, from 1953 to 1957, moving officials to change “city councilman” to “city commissioner” to resolve the gender issue. Elected mayor in 1954, she initiated recruitment of light industry to Delray. As mayor and commissioner, Strong was consistently a minority voice in helping the black community receive fair treatment; in 1956 she successfully fought an attempt to change the city limits to eliminate all black neighborhoods.

A wing at Bethesda Memorial Hospital was named for Strong, who served on their founding board, as was a community center in Delray Beach. The Evening Garden Club dedicated a fountain to her at Delray Beach Memorial Gardens. Activist and educator Spencer Pompey wrote of Strong as “this tall, lithesome, beautiful lady with an iron will, indomitable courage and compassionate sensitivity, who became the shining symbol of love, charity, understanding and forgiveness and, indeed, hope for an entire community.”

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