Norman Strunk, 84, passed away peacefully on June 1, 2019, at his home in Tavares, Fla.
He was born in Benton Harbor on Nov. 10, 1934, to Bert and Mae Strunk. He is survived by his wife, Joyce Strunk; and his seven children: Pamela (David) Leland of Oregon, Cheri (Kim) Fowler of Michigan, Tim (Jackie) Strunk of Colorado, John (Debra) Harris of Michigan, Randy (Emily) Strunk of Colorado, Julie Harris of New Jersey and Judy (Chris) Smith of Florida. He had 16 grandchildren: Kyle, Colin, Arleigh, Kaleigh, Kameron, Marissa, Zachary, Colton, Carly, Hailey, Bradley, Michael, Angela, Nathaniel, Thaddeus and Anya; and seven great-grandchildren: Francis, Mae, Louie, Dean, Isabella, Hadley and Grayson.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Harold and Howard; and his sisters, Reva Griffin, Geneva Pedde and Elsie Dettman.
By his friends, Norm will be remembered for his love of fast cars, whether racing them in his youth or watching NASCAR from his living room. As a mechanic, he was trusted to treat his customers fairly and with great expertise. He could fix nearly anything, and if he couldn’t, then it was definitely really, really broken. He served with great pride as “Exalted Ruler” of his Elks lodge. He did it for the love of his lodge and his brothers, and not just for the cool title. Even after he retired, Norm always had a project in the works and was perpetually in motion, if not in body, then in spirit. He believed in doing things precisely, because “If you didn’t have the time to do it right, why would you have the time to do it over?”
In their 43 years of marriage, Norm and Joyce had a lasting, loving partnership, bringing together two families and making them one. Through sickness and in health, they took care of each other. Norm and Joyce loved their place at Sandy Pines in Michigan and many a family-filled, multi-generational summer was spent fishing, boating, zipping around in golf carts and cooking out. Grandpa Norm built more than one fire in the firepit on an 80-degree night in order to roast marshmallows, make campfire pies or assemble s’mores. He was a pushover when it came to grandkids.
As a father, he was the dad who came home and then coached his kids in sports, even after being on his feet all day at work. Vacations began with, “Get in the camper, kids.” If he was asked, “How much longer until we get there, Dad?” his answer was always “10 more minutes,” even if he’d just pulled out of the driveway. Each of his children got a car on their 16th birthday – some hunk of junk purchased for a few hundred bucks that he had lovingly restored to its previous glory.
As a grandparent, he was a baby whisperer who could cuddle and calm any wailing infant. Pulling his teeth out to wow the grandchildren was a fan favorite, eliciting squeals of delight and sometimes mild terror. The first time was always a shock. It was how he initiated his grandkids. When it came to napping, his skill was legendary. “I just need to rest my eyes” he would say. If you dared change the TV channel, he would rouse and declare “I was watching that!,” then often fall back asleep.
If a measure of a man is creating lasting impressions, he left his family and friends a fortune in memories. He will be missed dearly and forever in their hearts.
Visitation will be from 3-5 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at Baldwin Brothers in Tavares, Fla. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, June 7, at First United Methodist Church, Tavares. For midwestern family and friends, a memorial service will be held in Michigan in the near future. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Parkinson’s Foundation or, better yet, taking your family out to dinner.