Bill Strange, the head of acquisitions for former cable operator Sammons Communications from 1970-88, died on Oct. 18 in Dallas after a short illness, the family said. He was 91.
According to a biography accompanying a 1991 oral history on The Cable Center’s Barco Library Web site, Strange oversaw acquisitions, franchising and government relations for Sammons, which grew to be a top-10 cable operator before it was sold off in separate transactions in 1995.
Born in Dallas, Texas, in 1921, Strange graduated from Southern Methodist University and served in World War II. After the war he joined his father in the automobile business and then worked for 10 years as an investment banker.
In 1970 he was hired by Charles Sammons to head up the acquisition and franchising operations for the Sammons cable company. Within a year, Strange had helped engineer acquisitions that doubled the size of the company, to 200,000 subscribers.
At one time, The Cable Center noted, he was mayor of Richardson, Texas, and head of the Texas municipal league. This gave him a good insight into the local political structure, knowledge he used in the franchising process. In his oral history Strange describes in detail the relations between cable companies and local city councils.
He also played a key role in passage of the 1984 Cable Act which deregulated cable rates and the reorganization of the National Cable Television Association in the mid 1980s. Strange's daughter, Dru, was killed in an automobile accident in 1980. In her memory he established the Dru Strange Scholarship administered through now Women in Cable Telecommunications' Greater Texas Chapter (information at this link). He was inducted into the Cable TV Pioneers ranks in 1980.
He is survived by Marjorie, his wife of 68 years; son, William B. Strange, III; friend, Cherryl Peterman; grandchildren, Rachel and Kevin Winner, William and Claire Strange, Adam Strange; great-grandchildren, Julia and Emerson Winner; and brother, Virgil Stange.
A memorial service was held today (Oct. 22) at Spring Valley United Methodist Church in Dallas.
Photo above of Bill Strange, at an (undated) SCTA convention, courtesy of The Cable Center.