Robert â€œBobâ€ E. Strong 76, of Elburn, passed away at McAllen Medical Center, McAllen, Texas, on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009.
Bob was born March 6, 1932, the son of LeRoy and Helen (Antkowiak) Strong in LaSalle, Ill. Bob grew up in LaSalle and attended local schools. He went on to receive his B.A. in Physical Education and later a Masters Degree in School Administration.
Bob entered the United States Army in 1952 and bravely served his country in Korea just south of the DMZ (de-militarized zone) where his military specialty as lineman laying telephone wire near the front lines constantly put him in harmâ€™s way. He was awarded a Combat Infantry Badge for his service and returned home in 1954.
Bob, looking for a party and a pretty lady, crashed a wedding a year or so before he married his wife. As luck would have it, he found his pretty lady in Ruth Ann Munson, and the party lasted nearly 53 years ever since their marriage on Aug. 25, 1956.
Bob and Ruth Ann lived in Viola and Streator, Ill., for a time early in his teaching career. They moved to Maple Park in 1965 while their current home was being built within a block of Elburn Elementary School.
Bob was a dedicated and passionate coach, teacher and school administrator for 35 years. Bob began his teaching career as Principal at Elburn Elementary. Seventeen years later, the school and many like it, were consolidated into Kaneland Elementary on Meredith Road in Maple Park.
Bob completed the last seven years of his tenure as the seventh grade basketball coach and Assistant Principal at Kanelandâ€™s Junior/Senior High School.
Bob loved his wife first and foremost, and he delighted in his children and grandchildren. He was a friend to all and had a special ability of relating to children because he could make the simplest, ordinary things fun.
Bob had a great passion for football. He played four years of both high school and college football and was a lifelong, passionate fan of the Chicago Bears. The highlight of his football days came in 1950 when he played in the Gold Dust Bowl (National Junior College Football Championship Game) in Vallejo, Calif., for Illinois Valley Community College. Bob was co-captain of the team a year later, and he completed his college career as an offensive guard for North Dakota State University at Fargo.
For the last 14 years, Bob and his wife wintered with many friends in the â€˜Tip-of-Texasâ€™ in Pharr, Texas.
He now leaves his loving wife, Ruth Ann Strong of Elburn; three daughters, Julie (Ed) Herzog of Aurora, Lora (Kevin) Denison of Shawnee, Kan., Suzanne (Steve) Crotty of St. Charles; one son, Mark (Betsy) Strong of Bolingbrook, Ill.; eight grandchildren, Rachel, Jacob, Leslie and Lance Denison of Shawnee, Kan., Samantha, Natalie and Ben Crotty of St. Charles, Marcia Strong, a student at Olivet Nazarene University, home to the training camp for the Chicago Bears in Bourbonnais, Ill.; Robert (Kristal) Strong and their soon-to-be-born son, Collin Robert, who will be ushered into this world with a great-grandpa angel as his guide; his sister, Gladys Huffstodt of LaSalle, Ill., and a family of friends stretching from Illinois to Texas.
He now joins his parents, LeRoy and Helen Strong; and his brothers, Bill, Francis â€œRedâ€, and Jim, who preceded him in death.
Friends may call on Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Elburn from 10 a.m. to noon, with a memorial service to celebrate Bobâ€™s life to follow at noon. The Rev. Dr. Jeff Dire, pastor of the church, will officiate, and private family interment will occur at a later date. A memorial has been established in Bobâ€™s name to benefit the Community Congregational Church, as well as Huntingtonâ€™s Disease Research, which has affected a family member. Checks may be made to the â€œRobert Strong Memorialâ€ and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66 , Elburn, IL 60119 . Tributes and memories may also be forwarded to the family at the same address or through www.conleycare.com.