Eileen Ruth Gilchrist-Strong was born on August 16th, 1952, in McCloud, a small lumber town in Northern California. Her family eventually settled in Southern Oregon where she grew up in a bustling, multigenerational household that included her mother, grandmother as well as brothers, Chuck, Gerry, Ty, and Harold. They all lived together learning to make the most of few material possessions, but always had an abundance of love and support. Eileen graduated high school from McCloud High School and later attended Lane College in Eugene Oregon.
Growing up with all brothers Eileen developed a special kind of tenaciousness and grit that she carried with her throughout life. Even when Eileen faced challenges, she took them head on and rarely complained or looked back. She lived in a spirit of not dwelling on what she could not change but instead, she spent her time and energy in spaces where she could make significant impact. Eileen had an incredible ability to turn adversity into opportunity. In both her personal and professional relationships, she led by example with an amazing sense of humor, incredible professional and business acumen, and an undeniable work ethic. Typically, up before the sun and working well into the evening; many often wondered when she had time to sleep!
Eileen amassed much success eventually rising to Chief of Operations in commercial real estate development. In partnership with her husband Jackie Strong, Eileen was the CEO of many successful businesses. As a dedicated philanthropist, it was imperative to Eileen to share her success with individuals who were less fortunate. Eileen was an avid supporter of individuals experiencing disabilities and worked hard to create spaces of love, support, and mentorship, she spent over a decade feeding hundreds of the unhoused during Thanksgiving and providing them with meals and words of inspiration. Eileen was passionate about social justice and was often times the cultural bridge builder within her multi-cultural family. Eileen was also a trailblazer as a woman and a professional, she was adamant about carving a easier path for women who came behind her entering the workforce.
On June 29th Eileen passed away at home, while in the loving arms of her beloved husband and best friend, Jackie Strong. In that moment, Eileen’s time on this earth came to an end, however, her influence will live on in the hearts of those who had the good fortune of being part of her incredible life.
Her memory will last until the last heartbeat of the last person who knew her while she was with us. Her legacy, for future generations, will extend beyond that.
Eileen had many amazing qualities and capabilities. Once she put her mind to a task, it would get done. She was confident and forceful, and stepped back for no one. She was also loving and kind. Her fierce loyalty and love for family and friends is what she will be best remembered for.
Beloved wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandma, cousin, niece, friend is how we know her. Eileen is survived by her Husband Jackie Strong, Children Jamie and Lisa Nelson, Lindsay and Alberto Ortiz, Sean and Rekah Strong, Siblings Chuck and Julie Martinez, Gerry and Donna Martinez, Harold Huettl, Grandchildren Spencer and Austin Nelson, Cameron Nelson, Makayla and Brayden Smith, Geovani Ortiz and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends who were like family.
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