Thomas G. Strauss

A man of great character and faith left this earth for his Heavenly home on Oct. 29, 2017.

Thomas Gary Strauss was born 71 years ago on Sept. 8, 1946, in Shawano, the son of Franklin and Eleanor Beversdorf Strauss. Being raised on a dairy farm north of Shawano led to a lifelong love and respect for nature.

He graduated in 1964 from Shawano High School and enjoyed staying in touch with classmates by being on class reunion committees. Attending WSU-Oshkosh, he met the love of his life, Mary Meyer, also of Shawano, and they married on July 4, 1970, making their home in the Fond du Lac area. Tom’s memory will be cherished by his loving wife, adoring three children Kyle, Jennifer, Sarah and their spouses, four grandkids, friends and extended family.

Tom was proud to have been a teacher for 33½ years at Goodrich and Fond du Lac High Schools, where he served for many years as math department chair and headed the social committee before retiring in 2003. He started the Chess program and, as coach, helped Goodrich win their first state championship in 1976 . They also went to the National High School Chess Tournament three times, finishing as high as eighth in Philadelphia.

He often remarked how great the staff and culture was at school. Trying to meet the needs of struggling math students, he, along with Christine Horbas and Paul Weisse, co-authored AMME applied math textbooks to teach math in a hands-on, visual, everyday approach. The Wisconsin Technical Education Association recognized their efforts by naming Tom the Secondary Teacher of the Year.

Tom also loved working with the KEY Club’s Reading Mother Program and their annual Storybook Land, where he played Geppetto, Pinocchio’s woodcarver. In 1995, on the recommendation of a former student, he was given an award by Milwaukee School of Engineering. During the 2000-01 school year, he was named Fond du Lac Secondary School Teacher of the Year and was honored with the Kohl Teaching Fellowship. His master’s degree was earned at Silver Lake College.

A colleague recently wrote this to Tom: “You have touched the lives of thousands of students. Walking by your classroom in the morning, I saw many, many students getting support on math or challenging their minds playing chess. Math wasn’t the first priority in your classroom, students were. For many students, math seemed confusing and confounding. You skillfully unlocked the mystery of math by making it both understandable and relevant. Mission accomplished. Well done.”

He was involved in many activities, and his faith was important to him. As a grateful member of Church of Peace, he served on committees and co-chaired the Fundraiser Bazaar often.

He learned taxidermy, which led to discovering decorative duck decoy carving under the guidance of many wildlife artists around Fond du Lac. Best of Show honors came as a novice in his first competition. He judged at several national competitions including the Ward Foundation World Championships in Maryland.

His many interests included local softball and volleyball teams into his 50s. He collected Ephemera — turn of the century Victorian era paper — and searched for it while enjoying traveling the U.S. with his family. Many winter nights were spent planning the summer adventures.

A fan of our Brewers, Badgers and Packers, he attended the famous Ice Bowl game and went to Major League Baseball parks in every city except for three, most with the help of his friend, Don Gorske.

Interest in the Corps of Discovery led him to the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation and as a Badger State Chapter member served on the board of directors.

Both he and Mary love genealogy and keep the family ancestry records; a trip to Germany’s Pommern area where the families emigrated from was a highlight.

In retirement, they built a log home near Shawano, cutting the trees he helped plant while in junior high school. On that site, they held their wedding reception and have hosted numerous family gatherings.

Nothing meant more than family to him and he loved seeing how their three grown children used their talents. Spending time with their four grandchildren, his siblings and extended family gave him so much joy and they meant so much to him.

Preceding him in death were his parents Franklin and Eleanor (1982), brother Fran (2015), in-laws Evelyn (2000) and Orie Meyer (2008).

Missing Tom forever will be his loving wife of 47 years, Mary, son Kyle (Caryn Goron) and grandpets in Grants Pass, Oregon; daughter Jenny (Sam) Sonnenberg and children Ephraim and Elise in Mukwonago; and daughter Sarah (Luke) Drake and children Charlotte and Vivian in Germantown. Siblings are Sharon (Les) Thorson and Philip Strauss, Shawano, Tim (Carolyn) Strauss, Petoskey, Michigan, and sister-in-law Jane (Tom) Lewis, Alpine, Calif. Beloved nieces and nephews and their children will miss his magic tricks, too. College friends, the Critters, were lifelong dear friends.

To say he led a courageous battle almost four years with pancreatic cancer does not cover it all. He remained upbeat and positive to all he met. Thank yous go to Dr. Dana Vasquez at Agnesian HealthCare, Dr. Doug Evans at Froedtert Hospital, the wonderful staff at Agnesian Cancer Center, Agnesian Hospice Home Care, and Dr. Choi and staff at the Agnesian Pain Clinic.

Cremation has taken place. Heart of the Valley Cremation is serving the family and condolences may be expressed online at Heart of the Valley.

A memorial visitation will be held at Church of Peace, 158 Military Road, Fond du Lac, from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2. The service will be 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 3, with visitation an hour before.

At a later date, the family will place cremains at Wescott Lake Drive Cemetery, Shawano.

In lieu of flowers, if you wish to donate to a memorial in his name, Smiles for Elise envelopes will be available at the Church. The fund helps the medical expenses of his beautiful granddaughter, Elise, who is battling spinal muscular atrophy. Memorials may also be made to Church of Peace.