Sadly, the life of a conscientious and generous San Benito County resident came to an end in 2020. But Bob Stratton’s influence will live on in our community. BenitoLink received $95,000 from the Stratton estate in July.
Bob and his wife Beverly Stratton gave their time and support to many local nonprofits. Beverly died in 2011.
When Bob passed, his estate was dispersed recently by the Community Foundation for San Benito County to several local nonprofits. BenitoLink was fortunate to be one of them.
This gift makes a major impact on BenitoLink’s long-term stability and helps us ride out potentially difficult economic times.
A quiet accountant with many years of business experience, Bob Stratton retired and then turned his attention to many local nonprofits with the goal of making a better community for everyone.
Bob was fond of BenitoLink and determined to see it succeed as a nonprofit, online newsroom. Even in our early, experimental days, the Strattons understood the importance of local news. As one of its first donors, Bob committed $5,000 annually when few others would step up to support local journalism at all. Those first few checks, written in his shaky handwriting, were some of the very first bricks set down to build a foundation for the community’s very own local nonprofit news site.
As someone who worked in tech in its early days, Bob continued to embrace innovation and computers―even in his eighties.
He saw the shifting sands of a news desert spreading across the nation and in small communities like ours. San Benito County residents had already gone several years without any reporting on local government when community members founded BenitoLink in 2011. Bob Stratton wanted to make sure residents would have a solid and lasting local news source in the county.
Friends Hugh and Jackie Bikle worked closely with Bob and Beverly for many years as they jointly helped support a nonprofit Beverly was especially fond of: Pet Friends, a pet adoption center.
“He and Beverly funded the spay and neuter program,” Bikle said. “That is the one, single most effective way of treating the problem [of feral cats and kittens without homes]. Beverly died in 2011.
“When Jackie and I were very active in Pet Friends, he was a real anchor,” Bikle said. “He gave huge amounts of time and huge amounts of money to it.
“Bob Stratton was really community minded. He was a real decent, really smart guy. He deserves the praise because of all the things he did for this community.”
But Bob Stratton didn’t want the attention. He once told me that the days when he needed a pat on the back had long since gone.
In the early days of BenitoLink, Bob would stop by and take a seat in our tiny office to ask about what was happening around town and in the county in general. He loved hearing about small town politics.
Already in his 80s at the time, Stratton would check in on the site daily from home.
He took a personal interest in the little newsroom’s technical flexibility and our growing team.
BenitoLink will always appreciate his early willingness to support local news, so critical to the health of democracy and the future of our community. He was adventurous in his support of the future of community supported news and in our first years gave it a good boost when early donations were scarce.
As the years passed, Bob became frail but remained intellectually alert. I know he was proud of what he helped build: free, trusted information that the entire county can depend on.
With his generous donation of $95,000, Bob Stratton has made an impact on the county’s future. BenitoLink turned 10 years old in 2022, and Bob has helped to ensure San Benito County residents will have the local news they need for many years to come.
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