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Jerome Joseph Stroh (Jerry) (Romey)

Eckelson, ND

1935, 2747, Camp Crook, F-19 Supervisor

Jerome Joseph Stroh, known as "Jerry " – and known as "Romey" in his younger years, a resident of Lakewood and a 37-year resident of Lacey, Washington, died in his sleep on May 2, 2013.

Jerome was born August 24, 1913 on a farm south of Eckelson, North Dakota, (two miles from where his grandfather homesteaded in 1883) to George Pius Stroh and Christina Mary Fischer Stroh. Cyrus Knable carried Dr. Lang in a buggy to assist Jerome's paternal grandmother, mid-wife Agatha Stroh, in the delivery during the North Dakota wheat harvest.

Jerome attended grade school at Island Lake School and graduated from Eckelson High School in 1932 along with four other graduates.

During grade school, Jerome’s first job was earning $.25 a month attending his country schoolhouse’s furnace – lighting it early every morning in the cold winter months. He came very close to burning down the building trying to light the fire during a particularly cold morning.

When Jerome was fourteen and still on the farm, he traded a puppy for an old Ford Model T car with a dismantled engine arriving in a box. After repairing and assembling the engine, he began working on a project with the car parts -- building an airplane in the family farmyard. He had never been close to such a machine, however he had observed the mail planes passing overhead flying from Fargo to Bismarck, and in his mind that was sufficient background to proceed with such a project!! He constructed a propeller, using the sheet metal blades from an old windmill rotor, and the angle of the blades was adjustable, just as propellers are today. He welded wings out of steel and supported the structure on fifty-gallon barrels under each wing. One Sunday afternoon after church, Jerome attempted to test the engine in front of about thirty cousins (he had over 100 first cousins) when his dad, George, asked him to stop the project for fear of inflicting grave physical harm on the inventor and bystanders. "It'd blow dust about half a mile," said Jerome, and indeed one of the neighbors, Mr. Gullickson, once complained about the dust it created.

After that, as he drove a five-horse team to earn the necessary $5.00 for a high school graduation ring, he harrowed half-mile-long rows in eight-inch-deep soft dirt and watched more planes ferrying the mail across the sky. He still longed to be following them in their travels with his own plane!!

His second job was as a hired hand for $5.00 a month with room and board, driving a team of horses and cutting wood. He hired on as a sheep ranch hand and later went to Montana to work on a wheat ranch.

In the fall of 1935, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, was made a supervisor and went to Camp Crook in the Black Hills of South Dakota to do maintenance and forestry work. He was an assistant and barracks leader. (The CCC were organized in 1934 by FDR after the driest and hottest spring in written history in the Midwest as a drought relief measure to assist those who were out of work).

In 1938, when his older brother, Harold ("Harlie"), drowned in the Sun River, he went to Great Falls and was offered his brother's job at the Heisey Memorial Center in Great Falls, Montana where he was the utilities man for two years at $75 a month. It was at this time that he met his best friend, and hunting and fishing buddy, the Monsignor Martin Werner who was buried in Great Falls, Montana, in 1997 at age 89.

Jerome attended Great Falls College of Education, now Great Falls University, and joined the Great Northern Pacific Railroad in 1939 as a car man's helper.

After Pearl Harbor, on January 3, 1942, Jerome joined the Army Air Corps and finally realized his dream of working on and flying in airplanes. He completed basic training at Fort Douglas, Utah and Sheppard Field, Texas. He was then sent to the Lincoln Aeronautical Institute in Lincoln, Nebraska where he graduated with honors. He also attended New York University and took courses from the University of Maryland and attended numerous Air Force educational institutions.

After a blind date arranged by a friend, Ethel Richardson of the Sisters of Providence at Columbus Hospital, he married Lois Adel DeWitt on May 16, 1942 at 5:30 AM before a 7:00 am test on carburetion. He was so nervous during the ceremony that he had to be excused several times while the best man, Leo Penberthy stepped up to his place at the altar.

The marriage lasted 63 years and yielded three children: James William Stroh, (Margaret) of Lakewood, WA, Gerry Stroh O'Scannlain, of Portland, OR, and Judith Stroh Farley (Bill) of Spokane, WA.

Jerome was the fourth child of Christina and George Stroh but was preceded in death by eight siblings, leaving him the eldest since 1945. He has two surviving sisters: Marcella Neubauer, Scapoose, OR, and Luella Kunze of Valley City, ND. Jerome had thirty Stroh and eleven DeWitt nieces and nephews.

Jerome was grandfather to: Conor O'Scannlain of Salt Lake City, UT, Deirdre O'Scannlain (Stephen Jones) of New York City/Las Vegas; Sarah Farley Jones (Tony) of Durham UK, Anne Farley Nelson (David) of Spokane, WA, Ruth Farley Hisaw (Thane) of Wasilla AK, David Farley (Heidi) of Spokane, WA; Joseph Farley (Jenn) of Ogden UT, Gerald Stroh of Prague, Czech Republic and Tyson Stroh (Heather) of Ventura, CA.

Jerome served in the US Air Force for thirty years and eighty-seven days, with tours at Davis Monthan AFB, Tucson, AZ, Windover Field AFB, Salt Lake City, UT, Clovis AFB, New Mexico, Chatham Field AFB, Savannah, GE, East Base Great Falls, MT, Yakota AFB, Japan, McChord AFB, Tacoma, WA, Clark AFB, Angeles, Pampanga, Philippines, McGuire AFB, NJ, Tahkli, Thailand, McChord AFB. He retired as a CWO-4 on April 2, 1972 after serving in World War II, The Korean War and Viet Nam, maintaining aircraft from the B24 to the C141 and a number of additional fighter aircraft and bombers. During his military career, Jerome submitted many time and dollar-saving concepts and inventions for which he was awarded by the Air Force.

After retirement from the US Air Force in 1972, Jerome became a building contractor, restoring 18 older homes from the age of 59 to 90, and reselling or renting them as desired by those interested.

He was an active community and church member. Memberships included: Sacred Heart Parish, the VA chapel in Lakewood, past president of the Holy Name Society, the American Military Retired Association (AMRA), a charter and lifetime member of the Lacey VFW, lifetime member of the Disabled Veterans Association (DVA), and a lifetime member of the American Legion.

His hobbies included hunting – particularly for moose in Canada, (where he was in attendance 31 times!!), fishing, antique furniture repair, clock repair, bee keeping, tending his orchard and family genealogy. He also had a keen interest in following his grand-children’s activities as they grew and matured.

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