Impact Awards Movers & Shakers Special Section

Jim Stringfellow: A Lifetime of Impact


Written By: Erica Brown

Stringfellow

Jim Stringfellow has a passion for helping children, improving health care and enhancing the Gainesville area’s quality of life, and he has backed that passion with action for decades.

In doing so, he’s following a long family tradition that began with his great-grandfather, Dr. William Hall Stringfellow, who was one of Gainesville’s first physicians and the first speaker at the 1852 meeting that saw a vote to locate the county seat in Gainesville.

Stringfellow is not one to talk much about his community service, other than to say that he always wanted to help meet community needs.

“We have a very giving community, and I’ve enjoyed working with people to help meet gaps in services,” he said.

Jim Stringfellow’s early community service included chairing the Gainesville Airport Advisory Board and the Alachua General Hospital board. He was the founding chairman of board for Hospice of North Central Florida.

Stringfellow chaired the board of the Partnership for Strong Families when it was created in 2003 as part of the state’s privatization of foster care and related services. He continued as chair until 2010, when he stepped down and became chair emeritus.

“Jim has been a pillar of advocating for children in the community for many years,” said Stephen Pennypacker, the organization’s president and CEO.

“He is a master at bringing people together to get things done,” Pennypacker said. “He is able to do that because he is such a kind man and because he’s very good at focusing on the goal without letting other things get in the way.”

Stringfellow also chaired the Alachua County advisory committee that developed the CHOICES healthcare program, which was funded by a seven-year, 25-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2004.

Stringfellow spearheaded Success by 6, a program of the United Way of North Central Florida that has provided $1.8 million over the past decade for programs designed to improve school readiness.

He has also served on the MTPO Citizens Advisory Board, the Healthy Families Advisory Board, the United Way of North Central Florida Board and the Alachua County Children’s Alliance. He is a longtime member of the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce.

His most recent project involved helping create the FluMist program, which provides 20,000 flu immunizations annually to school students and adults.

Stringfellow has been a longtime supporter of the Early Learning Coalition of Alachua County, an agency that funds childcare for working parents.

“Jim has the pragmatic mind of a businessman, the compassionate spirit of an advocate and the fierce heart of a lion,” said Gordon Tremaine, the coalitions’ CEO.

Stringfellow’s business career started when he went to work for his father, Hart Stringfellow, at Stringfellow Supply, a wholesaler of hardware and building materials that served stores within 100 miles of Gainesville.

After his father died, Jim focused the company on roofing material. Gulfside Supply (now Gulfeagle Supply) bought the company in 1995, and Jim’s son Doug went to work for the new company.

Jim retired at that point. His other children — Jim Jr., Martha and Richard — founded Stringco, which operates Georgia Carpet Outlet stores.

Jim’s wife, Jennie, is a longtime actress and director at the Gainesville Community Playhouse.

The Stringfellows are active at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Gainesville.

Tremaine summed up Stringfellow’s contributions:

“Jim does not settle for a sentimental fondness for children. He binds action to passion to empower actual change.

“The Jim Stringfellows of the world are a very rare breed, but the children whose lives have been impacted by his efforts are staggering in number.”

 

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