Know Your Vestry – Robert Strong

Robert Strong was elected to the Vestry in January 2017 and is a member of the Vestry Class of 2020. He has been an Episcopalian for 46 years and has served in the Warden positions on a Vestry in Oregon. 

Robert has attended St. Margaret’s since 2013 and attends the 10:00 service. He and his husband Jon O’Connor have been together 50 years. As Robert said, “We have always worked as a team.” Robert’s passion is gardening, and Jon’s passion is cooking, and their two dogs, Reggie and Charlie, keep them centered. They owned a salon and cut hair for more than 40 years. Robert says that this experience taught him how to talk to people and the importance of truly listening to them. He said, “Life is all about communication and listening.”

While in graduate school, Robert began working with hospital chaplains and people who were grieving. He is hospice trained and has worked with Forest Lawn Memorial Parks for the past twelve years, doing advanced funeral and cremation planning. Robert said, “I love what I do as I view each client as a special person looking for guidance on how to protect their family and themselves financially and emotionally.” Robert admits to working very long hours and credits Jon for the support that enables him to do so. 

At St. Margaret’s, Robert is a member of the Vestry’s Strategic Planning Group and is in charge of Hospitality, Newcomers and Greeters. He asked Glenda Erdman to be the Chairperson of the group, and they work closely together to make St. Margaret’s a warm and welcoming environment for anyone who comes through the front doors. In addition, he and Jon participate in St. Margaret’s Dinner Groups.

Robert’s goals as a Vestry member include helping wherever he can and inviting people to come to St. Margaret’s to see what we’re about. He hopes we can have services in Spanish sometime in the future, and he wants to help create a grief support system to help people in times of personal tragedy. Having lost both of his parents at a young age, Robert said, “My lifelong journey has been dealing with grief. I would love to see us have a system to get people through the stages of grief and back into our church family.”

When asked about St. Margaret’s, Robert said, “In so many ways, St. Margaret’s is my family and I care deeply about our future and pray for guidance and wisdom for the priests and the Vestry and our church family. The music program is so important to me. The Neighbors 4 Neighbors program is truly a miracle. I love the social justice program and the Building Bridges program. I tell my clients about all the wonderful things we have to offer the community and that all are welcome. No exceptions.”

You can reach Robert by email at

This is the eighth article in the series Know Your Vestry for 2018. We hope that these articles will help you learn more about your Vestry. The next article will appear in a few weeks.

About Jim Duke 128 Articles
Jim Duke is the Public Information Volunteer for St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, Palm Desert. In this role, he is Editor-in-Chief of St. Margaret's News, Podcast Creator and Host of "St. Margaret's in a Minute," coordinator for local media relations and assists with the management of St. Margaret's web site and social media accounts.