Michael Otto Strysick, Jr. died Wednesday, November 11, 2020 shortly after contracting COVID-19 while residing at Gables on the Pond in Random Lake for non-specific dementia.
The youngest child of Michael Strysick, Sr. and Agnes (Czaja) Strysick, Mike was born Friday, February 13, 1931. Our dad lived with his parents and siblings at 424 Center Avenue in Sheboygan. Shortly after graduating from Central HS, he left for Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. He served as PFC near Seoul during the Korean Conflict. He had earlier met his future bride and best friend, Carol (nee Greiner), at Skateland roller rink. They were married June 25, 1955. Their first child, Peter, was born the following November, and daughter Mary was adopted in 1965.
A devout Catholic since a student at St. Clement’s, our dad recognized the importance of serving others. For many years, he was a Scoutmaster and Commissioner with the Bay-Lakes Council of the BSA. We were especially proud when he received the St. George award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the spiritual development of Catholic youths through Scouting. He took us on family camping trips to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, NM where we enjoyed hiking, horseback riding, archery, wilderness survival and more.
Our dad knew construction and gardening. With his father, he built our family’s 1960 home on North 25th Street. At our next home on North 27th Place (in 1969) he built a greenhouse addition for his beautiful roses. He earned certification as Master Gardner and expanded his love of roses plus raised vegetable and flower beds at our home on Pheasant Lane beginning in 1976. Also in the 70s, he created the design to convert a small bootleg still on Maiden Lake into a three-bedroom A-frame cabin: working with his son and with his niece’s husband, Eldon, he took care of rough and finish carpentry, concrete, electrical work, plumbing and interior finishing.
Our dad knew cars and parts. He could diagnose and fix just about anything. Upon returning from Korea, he joined North Side Auto Parts and worked his way up to co-owner, opening additional stores throughout the county.
Our dad liked to keep busy. In addition to gardening, polka dancing and telling dad jokes, side gigs over the years included going door-to-door as a Fuller Brush man, working at Thieman’s garage, and delivering newspaper bundles.
Our dad expressed himself through his strong work ethic, his continually educating himself, and his beautiful baritone singing voice both in church and when sharing German phrases and songs he had learned growing up in a German-speaking household (plus a few Yiddish phrases picked up at North Side).
Above all, our dad loved our family. We enjoyed one- and two-week road trips every summer to 48 states and Washington, DC. We saw and learned so much! He loved taking pictures and sharing his slide shows. Though we didn’t make it to Alaska or Hawaii, our mom and dad had the good fortune of traveling to Rome. Our dad always selected the biggest and mushiest cards for our mom’s birthday and Valentine’s Day. He frequently said to anyone who’d listen, “We’re like Canadian geese, we mated for life.” When he lost his mate to cancer in 1992, he lost a big part of himself.
Mike is survived by his son Peter (fiancee Linda Grimm) of West Bend and daughter Mary O’Donnell (husband Michael) of Madison, along with many nieces, nephews and friends. In addition to his parents and wife, Mike was preceded in death by his siblings and their spouses: Edwin (Virginia) Strysick of Sheboygan; Virginia (Orville) Wilsing of Sheboygan; Dorothy (Billy) Kalk of West Bend; Elizabeth (Arno) Knoener of Howards Grove; and Agnes (Leo) Casey of Downey, CA.
The family would like to thank the staff of Gables on the Pond in Random Lake for their very loving and compassionate care.
Due to restrictions surrounding COVID-19, Mike’s immediate family will celebrate his life in a private ceremony.