We buried my father last week. Steve gave a eulogy during the Mass, and I would like to reproduce it here. He said it was alright to reproduce, I didn’t want to infringe on his copyrights or anything.
For those of you who may not know me, I’m Steve Strohmeyer. Child #6. The one between Jim and Tom in the chronological order. My mom asked me to come up here and say a few words about Dad. Although I find it very difficult to speak at this time, I’ll do it because my mother asked me to do it.
Let me begin by saying, on behalf of my mother and the rest of the family, thank you to everyone who came here this morning to say farewell to my father. It really means a lot to us. If Dad is looking down right now, I’m sure he’s pleased with the turnout. If I know my dad, I pity the people who knew him and are not in attendance today. He’ll be letting them know about it when they get up there. And they’ll be hearing about it for all eternity.
Who was Russell Strohmeyer? Many of you here today only know the Russell Strohmeyer that moved into Cape Albeon a few years ago. You probably just know him as Shirley’s husband. The guy on the 3rd floor who liked to play cards and always had lots of candy and snacks in the apartment. Dad would have been 86 in a few more days. Now only his sister, our Aunt Rosemary, can say they knew him that long ago. I’ve barely known him 45 years….a little more than half his life, so I can only relate firsthand about his life since then.
There are many words we can use to describe Dad; kind, opinionated, witty, proud, organized, determined, beloved. The list could go on indefinitely.
More than anything else, Dad was a devoted husband. He loved Mom dearly. I’m sure he considered their wedding day to be the best day of his life. He probably thought he was the luckiest man alive. I know my mother…he was the luckiest man alive. It would have been sixty years together in December.
He was a devoted son to his parents. I remember going over to visit Grandma Strohmeyer almost weekly when I was a kid.
He always cared deeply about his sister Rosemary. She has always been like a second mother to us kids. It’s ironic that in his final days, he would once again be sleeping in the room next to hers.
He was a father to seven children. Gary, Nancy, Rick, Bill, Jim, me, and Tom. I’m sure it wasn’t easy and many sacrifices had to be made, but I think we all turned out OK. Amazingly, he managed to raise seven children and for some reason his hair didn’t turn gray until his later years. I’ve still got a few more years to go on my two, and I can’t stop the progressive flow of gray.
And I haven’t even mentioned the grandchildren yet. He spoiled them shamelessly. I remember walking through the lobby of Cape Albion with my family after a visit, my kids with their pockets bulging with candy, and someone sitting in the lobby said “I know which apartment you’ve been visiting.”
He was very close to his extended family. He maintained close contact with most of his cousins throughout his adult life. This is evident when I see that the children of several of his cousins are here today. You obviously knew Russ well enough that you decided to come here today and avoid that eternity thing I mentioned earlier. Wise decision.
Despite all of this family, Dad always found time for his friends. Unfortunately, most of his old friends have also passed away, but I’m very glad to see those of you who are still going strong and wanted to be here to say goodbye. He’s probably already putting together a fishing trip with Art Rohmberg or Charlie Nester.
Dad was a religious man. I remember countless road trips where he would silently say the Rosary as we motored down the highway in the station wagon. I also recall frequently going to the Carmelite monastery on Clayton Road to light a candle and pray. This was usually done in conjunction with a visit to the Dash’s house. And now, after years of telling everybody else to do this, he can finally tell all his troubles to Jesus in person.
There are passengers in life, and there are those who sit in the driver’s seat. Dad was definitely in the driver’s seat. Oh, there was that time when we took a family vacation to Yellowstone and Dad let Mom take the driver’s seat for a while, but that was the last time that happened. I think we wound up somewhere in Idaho.
It seems like only yesterday that we were drinking dad’s ice cream floats. I’ll always remember Valentine’s Day as extra special in our house. Christmas was also special. We remember that Dad was obsessed with twinkle bulbs. And Mom truly appreciated Dad putting that red bulb over the garage door. I was probably 15 when I learned that there was such a thing as charcoal lighter fluid. Dad always poured gasoline on the charcoal and threw matches in the general direction of the grill. I’ll remember the well stocked medicine cabinet. I was in my twenties when I realized that penicillin was a prescription drug. Dad gave it to us whenever we had the sniffles. And don’t even talk to me about rolling newspaper logs for the fireplace.
For Dad’s sake I hope there’s no coconut, pineapple, broccoli, cauliflower, or balloons in heaven.
Dad was my great teacher. I learned so much from him. He taught me how to fish, how to ice skate, how to play bridge, how to invest money, and perhaps most importantly, how to be a father and husband to my own family.
Monetarily speaking, Dad wouldn’t exactly be considered a wealthy man. When I see how many people came here today to say farewell to an 86 year old man, I realize that he was wealthy in all the most important aspects.
I’m very sad that Dad has passed away, but he hasn’t really died. Each one of us carries a piece of him inside of us. As long as we can recall memories of him, that piece will still live. I intend to keep my piece right here in my heart. I hope you will also.
I know it was a hard thing to do Steve, so kudos to you and Nancy for getting up there and saying a few words. I know I could not have done it, I would have broken down up there on the pulpit, looking down at Dad’s casket.