COLUMBIA - Michael Jacob Strong, a native of Rhinebeck, NY, who was the third generation of his family to own and publish the weekly newspapers, The Rhinebeck Gazette and Gazette-Advertiser, and later worked as an alcohol and drug counselor for over 20 years in Dutchess County, died on August 4, 2020, at Sedgewood Nursing Home in Hopkins, SC. He was 83.
Born in Rhinebeck, NY October 28, 1936, the older son of the late Jacob Hill Strong, Jr. and Shirley Clark Horton Strong Smith, Mr. Strong was educated in Rhinebeck Central School and received a BA in Journalism in 1958 from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. His father had died in January of that year, and upon his return to Rhinebeck, he purchased the newspaper and commercial printing business and building from his mother. For the next 12 years, he was editor and publisher of The Gazette, and in 1962 purchased the weekly Red Hook Advertiser from Alice Norton, combining the two weeklies into the present Gazette-Advertiser. In the early years, Mr. Strong continued the family tradition of winning numerous state and national awards. His grandfather Jacob H. Strong had purchased the paper in 1905, and his father Jacob Jr. bought it in 1936.
By the late 1960s, Mr. Strong’s battle with alcoholism had progressed and the disease began to take its toll as the newspaper’s influence and finances declined. He sold the commercial printing business to his younger brother, Jeffrey D. Strong, and the newspaper to Mrs. Charles E. Rider in 1969. In August 1973, Mr. Strong was able to achieve sobriety, initially at High Watch Farm in Kent, Ct., and maintained this way of life for over 46 years until his death. During this time, he privately and professionally devoted his energies to helping others combat alcohol and drug addictions, working as a senior counselor at Rhinebeck Lodge for Successful Living from 1983-1988, when he accepted a position with the Dutchess County Department of Mental Hygiene in its Drinking Driver Program in Poughkeepsie, NY. He also during this time had worked for several years as an assistant instructor with DDP at Dutchess Community College. From 1990 to 1998, he was a counselor with Intensive Outpatient Program (ITAP), when he retired to care for his mother who had been diagnosed with dementia. After some time, he returned to Poughkeepsie and was counselor in the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) in Poughkeepsie, and also the Red Hook Residential Program for male teenage offenders. He also continued to conduct a weekly relapse prevention group at St. Joseph’s Guest House in Poughkeepsie from 1992 until 2004. From 1970 to 1982 he was a self-employed painting and wallpapering contractor in the Northern Dutchess County area.
Mr. Strong married the former Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Cahill at St. Mary of the Snow in Saugerties, NY, on April 3, 1961. She predeceased him in 2012. Their four children survive, Gregory Horton Strong and wife Lisa Henderson Strong of Beacon, NY, Martin Hill Strong of Hyde Park, NY, Peter Lawrence Strong of Columbia, SC, and Mary Elizabeth Strong Gonzalez and husband Ruben Gonzalez of Columbia, SC. Also surviving are four grandsons, Gregory Stephen Strong Kaufman and husband Jordan Kaufman of White Plains, NY, Ryan Patrick Strong of Beacon, NY, and Michael Franklin Collins and his wife Reagan Fox Collins of San Antonio, TX, and Jacob Wright Collins, both currently serving in the United States Armed Forces; a younger brother, Jeffrey D. Strong and wife Patricia B. Strong, of Rhinebeck; four great-grandchildren, Emilia and Beau Collins, and Austin and Asher Kaufman; two nephews; one niece; and four cousins.
Mr. Strong was a convert to Roman Catholicism, was a member of Good Shepherd Church in Rhinebeck, NY, served as an organist for over 15 years from May 1989 until July 2004, when he retired and moved to Columbia, SC, where he volunteered as organist at St. Joseph Catholic Church. He also volunteered on a weekly basis for the Greater Columbia AA Intergroup. He retired his NYS credentials as Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor in October 2006 and received a Counselor Emeritus Certificate for over 20 years of service.
During the years he owned the Gazette-Advertiser, Mr. Strong was a member and past director of the New York Press Association, member and secretary of the Rhinebeck Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Rhinebeck Lodge, No. 432, F. & A.M., Rhinebeck Rotary Club, and Rhinebeck Cemetery Association.
In later years, Mr. Strong was a founding member of the Dutchess County Council on Alcoholism and Chemical Dependency, a member of N.Y. Federation of Alcoholism Counselors and the National Assn. of Alcoholism and Drug Counselors. He was active in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous for over 46 years and a member of the Matt Talbot Retreatment Movement. In June 2000 he was elected president of the Family Circle of The Thompson House of Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck, NY, the nursing home where his mother resided from February 1999 until her death in October 2004.
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