[ Her life’s mission ] Growing up abroad In February 1953, Mrs. Corrine Sahlberg took the train from the remote Thai village of Nong Khai to Bangkok. At roughly 385 miles, it was a long, treacherous journey for a woman to make alone – much less pregnant. She needed to get to Bangkok three weeks prior to the arrival of her and her husband’s second child. The Sahlbergs were working in Thailand with The Christian and Missionary Alliance, spreading the Gospel to people living in remote mountain villages. Stratton has a black-and-white photo of what she likes to call her “Indiana Jones dad,” Elmer, in her chambers. He’s floating down the Mekong River, on a dugout canoe, appearing very much at ease just a few inches above the water, with a chicken next to him. The fowl was his supper for later, as the people he visited would be too poor to provide him a meal. As he shared the Christian faith, his wife taught Bible
health and veterans’ courts and improvements in juvenile justice for which she will be lauded long after leaving the bench, McGee Brown said. “She has really been the voice around the country on what courts can do to better serve veterans returning with traumatic brain injury or other issues and working with police and judges around Ohio on response to defendants with mental illness,” McGee Brown said. “Justice Stratton works hard and is always willing to help others. She cares very much about the judiciary and how we can make the judicial branch better for judges, lawyers, and the people who access them.” As Stratton gains a reputation for advocating for the mentally ill and veterans, people sometimes gently tease her for being a conservative Republican working on behalf of traditionally liberal causes. With a glint in her eye, she enjoys retorting: “Well, Republicans can be mentally ill, too!” Then, with a reflective pause, she adds, “It’s the fault of my missionary parents. They inspired me to do all of this.”
classes for women and served as a practical nurse. In Nong Khai, they were the only foreigners except for one Catholic priest. The family lived in a house considered fancy by Thai standards but primitive to Americans. There was no running water, and electricity was available only by day. Stratton lived there until she was 6 – the age when all missionary children bid their parents farewell and went off to boarding school for four and five months at a time. Without telephones, the Sahlbergs communicated with their children through letters. Stratton recalled being fortunate enough to have parents who wrote faithfully. She said, “Some kids did real well in that environment; some did not. The separation from parents at such a young age was really tough on a lot of kids. I somehow thrived in it.” Stratton was in boarding school in South Vietnam during the height of the Vietnam War. The walks she and her classmates used to be able to take into the mountains as young children became unsafe. Eventually, they could not leave campus at all.
COURTESY OF EVELYN LUNDBERG STRATTON ’79
>> statement before the court on Sept. 13. During a conversation in her chambers on Front Street, she elaborated further. Being an Ohio Supreme Court justice is a demanding job. Justices read, on average, 5 feet of legal briefs every two weeks. Plus, there are ethical restraints on advocacy with which to contend. “The work that I do in mental health and with veterans has become far more important to me,” Stratton said. “I was pretty much doing two full-time jobs, and one had to go. So this one went.” Former Justice Yvette McGee Brown ’85 has known Stratton since their days serving in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court. She described Stratton as a thoughtful jurist who listened with an open mind to opinions that were different than hers. Stratton was collaborative in her approach and quick in getting out her decisions. But it will be Stratton’s significant contributions to mental
Evelyn Sahlberg made friends and other happy childhood memories growing up in Southeast Asia as the daughter of Christian missionaries.
T H E O H I O S TAT E U N I V E R S I T Y
All Rise Winter 2013 - The Creepy Factor