John Frank Strey was born on April 30, 1924 at Renville, son of Emil and Weike (Ruter) Strey. He grew up and was educated at Renville and entered the U.S. Army while in his senior year of high school, later getting his GED. He served in the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions as a paratrooper and served at Normandy, Holland and the Battle of the Bulge. He received three Purple Heart awards and served from March 3,1943 until his discharge on December 20, 1945. Following his discharge from the Army, he returned to Renville.
He was united in marriage with Helen Stene on June 30, 1951 at Renville. They made their home in Minneapolis on Portland Avenue South for many years. John worked at Archer-Daniels and at Creamette, before beginning work with the Minneapolis Public School System, where he served as a janitorial engineer until retiring in the late 1980’s.
He and Helen moved to rural Princeton in 1973. Helen died on February 27, 1980.
John recovered from an auto accident in 1985 and triple bypass surgery in 1987 and was encouraged by his doctors to begin walking, so he did, regularly walking up to 12 miles or more a day. He had a hobby farm and raised beef cattle for a time, putting up hay on his daughter and son-in-laws land and bringing it home and stacking the bales himself, when in his 70’s. He would pick up aluminum cans along the roadway and gained notoriety in the neighborhood for his ability to trap gophers. He took care of his grandson, Joe, from the time he was an infant, until sometime in Joe’s mid-teen years, Joe started driving and he began to take care of Grandpa.
John is survived by his daughter Anna (Curtis) Hunt of Princeton and seven grandchildren: Joseph Hunt, Danny Bergstrom, David Strey, Hope Strey, John Strey, Michael Strey and Carrie Strey; brother Walter “Scott” Strey of Balsam Lake, Wis.; sisters Fannie Rogers of Renville and Elsie Kirschbaum of Olivia.
He was preceded in death by his parents Emil and Weike; his wife Helen; siblings: Christina, Henry, Augusta, Henrietta, Al and Hank; son David Strey and daughter: Laureen (Lori) Bergstrom.
Funeral services were held on Monday, March 12 at Bethany Lutheran Church, Princeton with Pastor Jerome Gernander officiating. Military honors were provided by the Princeton American Legion. Burial was in Oak Knoll Cemetery, Princeton.