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My Uncle Leroy Strieker passed on this morning. I got to see him yesterday briefly and provide a small kindness before he left. He thought I was my father. When I was a little kid and my Dad was on his second tour of VietNam and a few years later, stationed in Japan for 3 years, Uncle Lee (mom's brother in law) and Uncle Bud (Mom's brother) stepped in and helped out with things a Dad would normally do. Uncle Bud took me to Cub Scouts and helped me make my first Pinewood Derby car. Uncle Lee taught me how to fish which has become a thing of much enjoyment over the course of my life.I can fondly remember getting up very early in the morning and readying the poles and tackle boxes, getting in his car and driving to the local tavern which also sold nightcrawlers and then heading out to some slough or farm pond or the Illinois River where he proceeded to show me the finer points of casting, putting a bobber on a line, baiting a hook and then waiting patiently for a fish to bite before setting the hook and bringing in the prize. He also showed me how to clean and cook fish. Lee loved to cook and come up with new recipes for things. He also refereed a lot of the squabbles between me and my cousins. When the older cousins would bully the younger ones, he'd encourage us to find strength in numbers and gang up on them to get them back.

He was a devout Catholic despite also being a devout bigot. He told lots of off color jokes, drank too much, smoked too much but had a heart of gold. He worked for Central Illinois Power Service for 30 years, starting as a lineman and ending as a manager. When the company locked out the Union rank and file in the late 80's, Lee having not climbed a pole in over a decade went back to living in motel rooms, stringing wire and climbing poles again. He even "found" 200 yards of heavy wire so we could take 220 power out to all of our outbuildings on the farm.

After he retired, he frequently got calls in the wee hours to transport Burlington Northern railroad workers up and down the line to trouble spots for Black's Van Service. He could be found every morning at the Elk's Lodge playing cards with his buddies. He devoted himself to the Catholic Church and one old Irish priest in particular whom he would drive around each weekend to visit the bedridden and homebound parishioners who could not attend regular mass.

In these last years, he suffered greatly from COPD and was taken frequently to the hospital with pneumonia but rallied every time up to a week ago when everyone was convinced it was his final hour. In the end, he passed away in his home, surrounded by family, sitting up in bed and watching his beloved squirrels and birds out on the feeder. He will be sorely missed.

At lunch, I went over to the Catholic Cathedral here in Dubuque and said my final prayers for him. Hard to believe he won't be around anymore.

Peace Uncle Lee,



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 19th, 2010 10:34 pm (UTC)
Sorry for your loss. He sounds like a great man.
Oct. 19th, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
He was a good man anyway. Larger than life.

Oct. 20th, 2010 12:21 am (UTC)
Sorry to hear about your uncle.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)

Oct. 20th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC)
I'm glad you were able to see him before he passed and I'm sorry for your loss.

Take care of yourself.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
I am. My section of the family is usually the caretakers for everyone else and I'm sure it will be that way this time too. But your advice is always welcome because we often forget.

Oct. 20th, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
Condolences from me and my family. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss.

Oct. 21st, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks love!

Oct. 20th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks much. Unfortunately with huge families and no one getting younger this will be an ongoing theme I'm afraid.

Oct. 21st, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC)
My sympathies.
Oct. 21st, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks, it's appreciated.

Oct. 22nd, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
*Hug* so sorry..
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )