In Memoriam

Bert Lester Bennett

January 22, 1921 – July 16, 2018

A native of Winston-Salem, Mr. Bennett joined his family business, Quality Oil Company, in 1947. Under Mr. Bennett’s leadership, Quality Oil grew to be one of the largest branded oil jobbers in the U.S. In addition to his success in business, Mr. Bennett was committed to the Winston-Salem community and was a loyal friend and supporter of Forsyth Technical Community College. He also demonstrated his love for the state, devoting many hours to politics and meetings while serving the people of North Carolina. As a leader, Mr. Bennett lived with purpose, generosity, and character, and he will leave behind a legacy of integrity. When Mr. Bennett was asked about his greatest investment, he said, without a doubt, every single one of his eight children. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family.


Aurelia Gray Eller

June 29, 1932 – September 10, 2018

A lifelong resident of Winston-Salem, Ms. Eller had a favorite saying, “Live so that when you are gone, it will have mattered.” Undeniably, Ms. Eller lived her life in that manner and made a difference to many people. As an arts and civic leader, Ms. Eller had a keen ability to inspire and motivate others. She was a champion for diversity, inclusion, and fairness to everyone. Over the course of six decades, Ms. Eller held leadership positions in numerous organizations, including president of the Winston-Salem Arts Council, the Winston-Salem Symphony, and the Winston-Salem Junior League. She served on numerous boards, including Salem Academy and College, the Board of Visitors of Wake Forest University, the Board of Trustees of Winston-Salem State University, and the Forsyth Tech Foundation Board. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family.


Robert Lewis Strickland

March 3, 1931 – September 21, 2018

A longtime resident of Winston-Salem, Mr. Strickland was passionately interested in expanding accessibility to higher education. To show his commitment to the Winston-Salem community, he and his wife Betty donated $2.8 million to Forsyth Tech last year – the largest ever by an individual donor. At their request, the funds will support the development of the college’s Career Center, including an endowed position of Career Center director. The Center will be located in the Robert L. Strickland Center renamed for him. Mr. Strickland retired from Lowe’s Companies, Inc. in 1997 after 40 years of service, and his accomplishments and achievements were numerous. One of the highlights for him was serving in the N. C. House of Representative from 1962 -1964, where he was proud to support the 1962 session’s founding of the North Carolina Community College System. We send our deepest sympathies to his family.