Dwight Strong Biography
Dwight V. Strong. (1916 – 2002) Born in San Francisco, Dwight was the only child of Vernon T. and Edith Grosse Strong. He attended Lowell High School and Menlo High School. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Lambda Kappa in 1937 from Stanford with a business degree.
A member of Stanford’s fencing team, Dwight remained an active fencer until he was 80. In 1964 he joined San Francisco’s Halberstadt Fencer’s Club, where he was a president. He helped form the Limited Partnership that purchased the Club’s current building on South Van Ness.
In August 1942, Dwight was drafted and served as a Tech Sergeant in the Ordnance Branch of the Army until January 1946. After WWII, he returned to run Strong and Company, a San Francisco insurance brokerage started by his father, finally selling the firm to Rollins-Burdick and Company, where he remained a senior vice president until his retirement in 1987. Known as “the most honest man on Montgomery Street,” his professional affiliations included the Merchants Exchange Club.
Before his retirement, Dwight made several trips to Africa that set the course for the twin passions for the remainder of his life: collecting African art and paintings. On one trip, painter Millard Sheets recognized Dwight’s talent as a sketch artist and became a close friend and mentor. He encouraged Dwight to take up painting at the age of 69. Dwight had six one-man exhibitions to his name at the time of his death and was an inspiration to other latent artists. Dwight’s collection of African art is highly acclaimed and an exhibit called: “East of the Atlantic, West of the Congo: Art from Equatorial Africa,” was held at the De Young Museum in 1995.
Dwight was a major supporter of the De Young Museum, and also contributed to the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet, the Limelighters, ACT and the Sierra Club. He and his wife, Blossom, sat on the National Council of Fine Arts. Dwight also financed the college educations of six Native Americans, as well as a young man from West Africa, who now runs his own business in Mali.
Dwight fell in love and married his friend and soul mate, Blossom Fong on July 6, 1993. It was his first marriage. Although he didn’t have children of his own, he became a father figure to Mrs. Strong’s grown children. Dwight and Blossom are known for the lavish parties they hosted at the St. Francis Yacht Club, where they were members.
He is survived by his wife, Blossom F. Strong, her children Stephanie Low, Alvin Low, grandson Daryl Higgins, cousins C. H. and Shirley McGill, Charles and Pat McGill, Dr. Liz McGill, and a large extended family of friends.