BURLINGAME — Dean William Strohm, Burlingame, slipped away at home quietly and without fanfare during the noon hour Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, after staring down Parkinson’s disease, two broken hips and numerous other health challenges over the last 10-plus years. He was 88.
He was born Feb. 3, 1934, on the family farm northwest of Burlingame to William H. and Nina Elizabeth (Faust) Strohm. He grew up on the Misty Glenn farm and attended country school, and then Auburn Grade School through eighth grade. The family moved to Burlingame in 1946, in the middle of his eighth-grade year. He graduated from Burlingame High School.
Dean worked various jobs before joining the U.S. Air Force in 1956. He spent time in California and Illinois, and was discharged in April 1959 while stationed at Eglin Air Force base, Florida. He returned to Burlingame, where he met Carolyn Smith on a blind date at the drive-in movie theater at Osage City. They married three months later, on Aug. 26, 1959. To this union two daughters and a son were born.
He worked for the Santa Fe Railroad as a carman at the Topeka shops for 36 years, and was a proud member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Carmen of America union. He spent the majority of his railroad career in the “car shed,” where he built and repaired freight cars as a skilled welder. In the last few years before retirement, his job in the car shed assembly line was to straighten ladders on the box cars. He prided himself in doing it with only a torch, no hammers. He enjoyed attending breakfasts with his fellow railroad retirees, and maintained special lifetime friendships with Bill Slade and Jim Niccum.
In April 1996, after retiring, Dean started working for the Burlingame Cemetery, where he spent the next 12 years trimming weeds around the headstones. Even in the last years of his life, he expressed how much he still missed being able to do that, as he took much joy and pride in maintaining the beauty of the historic grounds.
In the 1970s and 1980s, he frequented the CB radio airwaves with the handle “Blue Bomb.” He was a car junkie, taking special pride in the 1963 Impala he bought new. He relished the rush of speed provided by wheeled conveyances, whether it was his boyhood bicycle or his 1955 Chevy Bel Air. He also had a great affinity for his 1982 Dodge Ram D100 with the finicky clutch. He learned from his father how to take meticulous care of his property, equipment, house and vehicles, maintaining all in pristine condition, and he passed that trait on to his children and grandchildren. He could get 250,000 miles out of a car only built to run for 100,000 miles.
Dean’s favorite color was green, John Deere green, as he owned several John Deere lawn mowers and garden tractors. Some of his other favorite pleasures at various stages of life were his pipe, Pepsi, popcorn and ice cream. He also loved his pet cats, developing special bonds with many that were members of the family over the years.
In his retirement years, he was an active volunteer for many projects at the Burlingame Schuyler Museum, and he took it upon himself to keep the Burlingame High School Alumni book up to date. He enjoyed spending time with the guys at the coffee shop, reading emails, and connecting with friends and family on Facebook.
Dean was a solitary man, but time spent with family was precious to him, especially the annual Strohm family reunion, Christmases, birthdays, and his 60th wedding anniversary celebration with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He was baptized in Christ in June 1994.
If Dean could leave three bits of wisdom to the world, it would be: “Shut the front door! I’m not paying to heat the whole outdoors!”; “Turn the lights off when you leave a room!”; and “BE QUIET when the weather report is on TV!”
Dean was preceded in death by his parents, Will and Nina; an infant son from a prior marriage, Ricky Dean Strohm; a brother and sister-in-law, Lester and Emily; a sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Marion Pinick; and a son-in-law, Kurt Simon.
He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, of 63 years; three children, Suzanne Simon (Dave Steuwe), Alma, Jim Strohm (Dena), Burlingame, and Heidi Koger (Steve), Lawrence; seven grandchildren, Jacob Simon (Siobhan), Katie Ferris, Trey Strohm (Steffanie), Caleb Strohm (Lorrin), Christian Stromgren, Breanna Keith (Devon), and Amy Stromgren; eight great-grandchildren, Haidan, Cole and Makson Simon, Creighton and Braylee Ferris, Emberly and Colby Strohm, and William Keith; and a host of nieces, nephews, step-grandchildren, step-great-grandchildren and many special friends.
A memorial service will be 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at Schuyler Community Center, 218 West Fremont, Burlingame, with inurnment to follow at the Burlingame Cemetery. Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at Lamb-Roberts-Price Funeral Home, 503 South Topeka Avenue, Burlingame.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Burlingame Historical Society and sent in care of Lamb-Roberts-Price Funeral Home, P.O. Box 194, Burlingame, KS 66413.
Condolences may be left at Lamb-Roberts.com.