James H. Strabel

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James H. Strabel

March 22, 1946 - February 22, 2019

James H. Strabel James "Jim" Strabel, 72, of Old Mission Peninsula, passed away on Feb. 22, 2019 due to complications from ALS.
He was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, on March 22, 1946 the youngest son of John and Mildred Strabel. While an infant, Jim, along with his parents and three brothers, returned to their hometown of Ludington. At the age of 5, his mother passed away leaving the four boys to grow up under the guidance and watchful eye of their father. The brothers all looked out for each other while working together to run the household, caddying at Lincoln Hills Golf Club and delivering newspapers. When Jim was 14, his stepmother, Veronica, joined the family; she was a welcomed addition and was loved and respected by all the brothers.
During high school Jim developed his love of the Great Lakes, working four summers as a waiter on the passenger ship, The South American. This was the last steamship to sail the Great Lakes as part of the Chicago, Duluth and Georgian Bay Line. Ports of call included Montreal, Chicago, Detroit, Duluth and Cleveland, with stops at Mackinac Island, Houghton/Hancock and Buffalo, New York.
After graduating from Ludington High School and attending Northwestern Michigan College, Jim joined the United States Marine Corps in 1966. He served with the Fourth Marines, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. After being wounded in combat in 1967, he spent 15 months at Great Lakes Naval Hospital prior to his honorable discharge. Jim was awarded the Purple Heart along with several unit citations for his service.
Jim received his degree in education from Western Michigan University. After one year of teaching, he began his career in sales with Michigan School Supply in Lansing. He later became a regional sales manager for School Specialties in Appleton, Wisconsin, during the company's growth in becoming the largest school supply company in the nation. Jim retired in 2012.
Jim had a deep appreciation for all that Northwestern Michigan College has done for the Traverse City community. He served on the annual barbecue and golf scholarship committees and was also a member of the NMC Foundation Board. Additionally, Jim chaired the William "Jan" Bonek Scholarship Fund, with proceeds providing scholarships to Suttons Bay High School students in memory of his good friend.
Jim enjoyed boating on Lake Michigan with family and friends and was especially proud of sharing his love of the water and navigation skills with his son, Jay. His other pastimes included tennis, bicycling, historical novels and the great game of golf. He was a founding member and past champion of the "Fall Classic," a tournament which he and his golf friends have been a part of for over 40 years. He also enjoyed long walks at the Old Mission Light House with his furry companions, Max and River. While he grew up on the sandy beaches of Ludington, he called the Old Mission Peninsula his home and felt very fortunate to have lived in such a spectacular place.
Jim was a tenacious and determined man who would give no ground and lived by the creed, "Never give up or give in - always keep struggling." This was demonstrated throughout his year-long battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. Jim and his family are especially grateful for the care and compassion received from the staff at Heartland Hospice, Chronic Care and Munson Private Duty.
Jim is survived by his wife, Sue; son, Jay; along with a brother, Dick Strabel, of Middletown, New Jersey; and numerous nieces and nephews who were always a bright spot in his life.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers, John, of Grosse Pointe, and Tom, of Atlanta, Georgia.
Cremation has taken place and a celebration of Jim's life will be held this summer in Ludington.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Peninsula Community Library, 2699 Island View Road, Traverse City, MI 49686; the Cherryland Humane Society, 1750 Ahlberg Road, Traverse City, MI; or the ALS Association Michigan Chapter, 678 Front Ave. N.W., Suite 177, Grand Rapids, MI 49504. Online donations are available for each group.
The family is being cared for by Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services.
Published on March 14, 2019
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2 posts

Britt and Alicia Sanford
Mar 15, 2019
Sue and family, we feel very badly that you and Jim, and your family had to experience the terrible ravages of ALS. We lived through its ravages with my mother for two years and pray often for a cure.

Sue, I enjoyed having you as an eighth grade principal and thought you did an excellent job despite how difficult a job it was and is.

Moving forward, Alicia and I wish you and your family the very best.

Britt and Alicia Sanford
Ruth Olsen
Mar 15, 2019
Sue, I'm so sorry to read about the loss of Jim and his illness. You and your son are in my thoughts.