IMG_0155 (1)
Robert Strommen
  • 80 years old
  • Date of birth: Sep 17, 1934
  • Place of birth:
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
  • Date of passing: Jun 19, 2015
  • Place of passing:
    Bellevue, Washington, United States
Well done, good and faithful servant, well done

Robert T. Strommen was born on September 17, 1934, in Pittsburgh, PA. He died on June 19, 2015, surrounded by family. While home from Princeton University in 1955, he met his future wife, Joyce, at a church corn roast, and they were married after a three year engagement on June 14, 1958. They had four children and were married for 57 happy years at the time of his death. Upon graduating from college, Robert entered the seminary and became a minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC). Robert touched many lives during his 80 years. His passions were social justice and his family. He had his first parish church in Larimer, Pennsylvania, but was quickly drawn to the emerging civil rights and social justice movements of the 1960’s, culminating in several trips to Mississippi to register black citizens to vote. He left the parish for a position as the Minister of Metropolitan Mission of the UCC in Philadelphia in 1967. For the next eight years he brought a progressive Christian spirit to a variety of political and economic justice causes as part of the church’s ministry. He was well known for one incident where he was shown on the nightly news chasing after a mounted policeman who had just knocked down an African-American teenager and refused to give his badge number.

In 1976, he and his family moved again, to Westfield, New Jersey, so Robert could work for the Board of Homeland Ministries of the UCC in the health and welfare division. He cut his teeth there on the JP Stevens boycott, and he spent those years advocating for the poor and for fair labor practices across the country. In 1988, he was appointed as the Association Minister for the Western Reserve Association of the UCC’s Ohio Conference and re-located to Lakewood, Ohio. For the next 12 years until he retired, he oversaw the running of the association, and with other leaders started new churches for new communities of faith and founded the first LGBT church in the conference’s history.

After his retirement in the year 2000, he continued to be active in social justice causes, with a particular passion for fairness in labor practices and equality for LGBT people everywhere. He served as co-chair of the Cleveland branch of Jobs with Justice, fighting for a living wage for workers, and he and his wife, Joyce, were a constant fixture at any protest, hearing, or event where equality for gays and lesbians and transgendered individuals was being promoted.

Throughout his life his family was always just as important as seeing justice done for everyone. He and his wife were a devoted couple for the entirety of their marriage. He was also a loving and supportive father and grandfather, with a great sense of humor. He was an omnivorous reader and was proud to be called an intellectual. He was also an avid and loyal Pittsburgh Steelers fan and supported the team no matter where he lived; being a fair man, he would also support the local team, unless they were playing the Steelers. His gentle and wise manner earned him many friends and admirers over the years. He will be greatly missed by many, but most particularly by his wife, children, and grandchildren. He is survived by his beloved wife of 57 years Joyce, his four children Erik, Beth, Gayle, and Ingrid, and three grandchildren, Matthew, Melissa, and Jennifer.

Donations in Robert's memory can be made in his name to one of the causes he cherished and fought for in his life: The United Church of Christ Open and Affirming Coalition, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and/or Planned Parenthood.

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Nancy Krody on 18th September 2017

"Here's hoping you and Joyce had a wonderful b.d. celebration yesterday! Really wish I could be at her memorial service this weekend in Baltimore, but will be at a Boston-area meeting. Will try to make it to Cleveland in January. Love you both! Nancy"

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 17th September 2017

"Happy 83rd birthday. Love you. Hope Mom is celebrating with you."

This tribute was added by Nancy Krody on 19th June 2017

"Can't believe it's been two years already. And I can't imagine a General Synod without Bob, in Baltimore, no less! Still miss his passion for justice, his humor, his friendship. Praying for peace for Joyce and the kids and grands. Hope to see you in a few days in Baltimore. Nancy and Pat."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 2nd February 2017

"Watching Jurassic Park 3 on TV, I know you would find the ridiculousness of it hysterical. Thinking of you, missing you. Love you Dad!!!"

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 22nd January 2017

"Oh, Daddy, I want to call you. This is nerve wracking. I miss you. Love you."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 22nd January 2017

"AFC Championship game tonight Dad. Steelers vs Patriots. Wish you were here to watch it with me in person, but I know you will be with me in spirit! Help us take down the cheating Evil Empire of New England! Go Steelers!!!"

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 25th December 2016

"Merry Christmas Daddy. Thinking of you today. I watched the Steelers - Ravens game with Matt. We won and clinched the division. Thanks for the help."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 17th December 2016

"Merry Christmas Daddy. I miss you. I don't think I fully realized or appreciated how much of a calming and positive impact you had on Mom and all of us until recent events. I am having trouble processing the election and your voice would be great. Mom is having a hard time with her health issues and your encouragement would make it easier on her. I don't really understand how it can be harder this Christmas without you than last, but maybe I was just numb or hadn't processed anything last year. I love you."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 17th September 2016

"Happy birthday Dad. Mom and I are going to dinner to celebrate. Love you."

This tribute was added by Andrew Lang on 17th September 2016

"Bob, what are birthdays like in heaven? We miss you, and are grateful you're still a presence in our lives."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 12th September 2016

"We won the opener! Go Steelers! Yay, Daddy!"

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 29th June 2016

"At the beach for the first time without you. It feels especially like you are close to me here. I think mom feels it too. Love you and miss you daddy."

This tribute was added by Nancy Krody on 20th June 2016

"Spent last weekend at Pennsylvania Southeast Conference, UCC, annual meeting. Couldn't help but remember the ones decades ago when we'd go down to "The Bridge" after hours and sing old union songs with Bob in the lead! Miss you, my friend. Wishing peace and healing for Joyce and Beth and Gayle and Erik."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 4th May 2016

"Dad, please give strength to mom and Beth. They need it. These are trying times and we need your strength and any strength God can give us. Love you and miss you."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 28th April 2016

"Well, we drafted a cornerback in the first round, as I am sure you know. We need one for sure, not sure about this guy as a first rounder, but I trust our team! Go Steelers!! Love you daddy! Weathering first draft without you somehow."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 28th April 2016

"Listening to Jim Croce and miss you. Remember singing songs with you. Work is rough right now,lot going on, would love to have you here. Miss you so much"

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 8th April 2016

"Thinking of you. Got over my mad. Love you Daddy."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 3rd April 2016

"Dad, I need you, mom needs you, sometimes I am so angry that you are gone I can't handle it."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 21st March 2016

"Would love to be able to talk to you about this years primaries daddy. You would be fascinated and horrified. We live in interesting times and I miss your insight. Love you."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 11th March 2016

"Missing you a lot tonight Daddy. So many things going on I would love to talk to you about."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 5th January 2016

"I miss you Dad. I am having a hard time starting a year where you will not be here."

This tribute was added by Tamara Burke on 3rd September 2015

"I once pitched a fit at Beth, and fell in it.  Mr. Strommen pulled to two of us together and  mended the fence with a 'two wrongs don't make a right' joke that had our eyes rolling, even as we laughed and got over it.  Even though he wasn't MY dad, it was such a Universal Dad/LKids moment that I've never forgotten it, or the love that I've felt from (and for) Robert, Joyce and all of the Strommens for so many years."

This tribute was added by Howie & Sara Nixon on 23rd August 2015

"We only knew Bob for a relatively short time, at Charlestown. But we got to know him and Joyce shortly after our arrival. We enjoyed long talks about religion, politics, social justice issues, sports, and assorted other subjects. We will always value those conversations and the friendship that developed from them. It did not take long for us to see that Bob had lived his religion in a life of moral commitment that made others' lives better. It was a life that truly mattered to those who loved him and those who were touched by his efforts on their behalf. We will remember him as a wonderful husband, family man, and friend to many."

This tribute was added by Dave Schwab on 30th July 2015

"Bob was such a welcoming face as we worked together on the All Conference Staff. A patient mentor and a leader where many feared to trod. I celebrate with Bob's family and friends as we all celebrate his faithful life."

This tribute was added by Joan Ishibashi on 30th July 2015

"Bob and Joyce were an inspiration to me during my time in Ohio. Since we were neighbours, I loved driving by their house to see what signs they had on their front lawn.

Bob modeled for me justice and lovingkindness in the midst of church structures and political madness. He constantly reminded me why God wants us to keep on with gospel proclamation for all humanity, for all time.

My deepest condolences to Joyce and the entire Strommen family."

This tribute was added by Stephen Szilagyi on 23rd July 2015

"Thank you Joyce and Bob fo being wonderful and trusting friends. God bless and comfort your family, Jeannie and Steve"

This tribute was added by Olivia White on 23rd July 2015

"It was such a pleasure to meet Bob and Joyce when I moved to Cleveland in 2004.They were such great supporter of Men's Chorus. WRA was blessed to had him as their fearless leader. Joyce you are in our thoughts and prayer."

This tribute was added by Angela Marra on 19th July 2015

"To Joyce and family, Bob was a wonderful human being and a true friend.  I am so very sorry for your loss.  I remember assisting Bob with financial duties at Trinity UCC of Cleveland.  What a funny guy!  He would tell me, "You know I am the one assisting you.  Basically I watch and you do!"  I didn't care, he really tried!  I am so grateful to have had to opportunity to have Bob in my life.  He mentored me on public speaking which really helped me as a police officer.  He and Joyce came to my dad's wake which left a mark within my heart.  I will forever be thankful for such good friends.  Thank you Bob (and Joyce) for so many good memories.  Rest in Peace my friend until we meet again!  Your friend forever!"

This tribute was added by Alfred Cowger on 18th July 2015

"Eric, I'm sorry I will be out of town and will not be able to attend.  The next time you are in Cleveland, please let me know so we can catch up and introduce our respective families to each other."

This tribute was added by william Rader on 5th July 2015

"Together with many other friends and admirers, I join in grieving the loss of Bob - and in giving thanks for him.  He is an inspiring witness to Jesus for us all - a clear strong voice for justice and peace."

This tribute was added by Jan Bauer on 5th July 2015

"I've only known Rev. Bob for a couple of years since he joined St. John's UCC, but his wisdom and sense of humor were always apparent.  He had a marvelous perspective and a great way of helping one see the real issues so we didn't get mired in the details.  And what a singing voice!  I'm so sorry for your loss."

This tribute was added by David Flaherty on 5th July 2015

"Rev. Bob and his Fair Lady came to worship with us and stayed for a moment or two. There is a great prayer of consolation for the family who now mourn, a great loss on our own part...even in such a short time...and a great prayer of thanksgiving to the Almighty for such a man, such a love shared between to people, such a solid voice and witness and such a sojourner. His preaching at my installation last November is a moment I will always cherish. May he now know the fullness all that is good and holy. May we all meet up again one day! Dona ei requiem."

This tribute was added by Rob Rosolanko on 3rd July 2015

"I spent so much of my childhood at the Strommen's house in Westfield, seems as if I was one of their adopted children. That's the way that it was with Bob and Joyce. They made me feel welcome and many of Ingrid and my friends spent many a Saturday night eating Steakumms and watching MTV. When I backed myself into a corner many years later, Bob, Joyce, and the entire Strommen family were all there for support, a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on, and more love than I certainly expected or deserved. For that, I can't thank you enough. Bob - thanks for finding the perfect blend of irreverant humor, quiet confidence, and guidance that has come back to help me more times than I can count. The entire Strommen family - you have my deepest sympathy for your loss, and sincere gratitude to have met and known Bob. God Bless all of you."

This tribute was added by Rebecca Voelkel on 29th June 2015

"I have many fond memories of dinners with Joyce and Bob while I was the Interim National Coordinator for the Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ. They were so generous with their affection, humor and support. They were mentors of the best kind-- sharing stories, laughter and food.  I always walked away from our time wiser and with a bit of a sore stomach from all the laughing. One memory that has been particularly vivid was Bob telling me the story of his state senator doing something he deemed unforgivably stupid. He was enraged and called the senator's office. Apparently he yelled at the senator that he was "going to pay" for his bad vote (by which he meant he would work for his opponent in the upcoming election). But the police interpreted it as terroristic threats and surrounded his home 10 minutes later!

I have just spent the last week at the National Gathering of the Open and Affirming Coalition of the UCC and the General Synod of the UCC-- two spaces that were beloved of Bob. I am so glad to be able to have been in that space as Bob's death is so fresh. We've been able to pray and cry and laugh and remember together.

I give thanks for Bob Strommen and for ALL his faithful life and ministry. I know he has been received into God's loving arms with "well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Rest in power and peace.

With love and gratitude,

Rebecca Voelkel"

This tribute was added by Bill Somplatsky-Jarman on 29th June 2015

"Joyce and family, our hearts go out to you at this time of Bob's passing. Bob and I spent countless hours together during the J.P. Stevens boycott days.  His dedication and wise counsel helped form a nationwide network in the faith community to support the textile workers.  Although he met with the CEO of Stevens and top management of many retail chains, he was most at home amongst the workers.  Amidst all the hard work and days marked by defeats along the way, Bob's irrepressible spirit, sense of humor, and joy in personal friendships were ever present.  He was a mentor to many.  I know I learned a lot.  How he will be missed.  May God bless us all, each and every one."

This tribute was added by Erik Strommen on 29th June 2015

"From Pat Stawicki:
I am so sorry to hear the news of Bob's passing.  I am so deeply
saddened but at the same time I celebrate Bob's life and am so
thankful and joyful because I had the honor and privilege of knowing
Bob Strommen.

This world is a better place because of his life. He inspired us through
his faith, commitment to social justice and family.
Once you got to know Bob and Joyce you were a part of their family.
I remember the love and respect the Strommen family showed my
Aunt Edna and Uncle Ted.  Words can't express the bond of love that
grew between them over the years.

Recently I was trying to scale down one more time ( Joyce does that sound
familiar ) and came across pictures of vacations you took together.
Wonderful times and special memories.
One of my favorite memories was going with Bob and Joyce to march
in Washington D.C. for Social Justice.

His laughter was contagious, he told interesting stories and loved a good
joke. He was always interested in what others had to say and made each
person feel special.  Bob lived his Faith with kindness and shared God's
Love with so many people.  A life well lived serving others is a Blessing
to all who knew him and a Thank you to our Creator.

Joyce I miss you and our long talks. Maybe some day we can talk.
Our prayers are with all of you ."

This tribute was added by Grant Sontag on 28th June 2015

"Dear Joyce, sending you condolences and love. 57 years is a long time. There is NO WAY he could have been such a wonderful man without a dedicated and loving companion by his side - YOU! God bless you both, and may he rest in peace."

This tribute was added by Patti Abahazi Verde on 26th June 2015

"Dear Joyce and all of the Strommens,
We send our love to you at this time of Bob's transition.  Bob was truly a pastor to all he met. Bob mentored me through the process of transferring into the UCC.  I am deeply appreciative of the support you both provided to me as well as to the entire congregation of Liberation UCC. It made a huge difference in the life of this congregation, and clearly, of all of the congregations you have touched.  Over the years you both became good friends to Linda and me. I will always remember the easy way you welcomed us into your home for a chat or to discuss a heartfelt matter. May God's peace surround you all at this time."

This tribute was added by Jim and Cathy Stentzel on 25th June 2015

"Friend. Mentor. Inspiration. Bob was all these things and more in our Cleveland/Western Reserve Association years. What we remember best is how fully he put mind and heart into working for justice. Some movement persons love the drama and headlines; Bob put body and soul into every important struggle, caring deeply even when the cameras/lights were off."

This tribute was added by Cheryl & Tom Pizor on 24th June 2015

"We met Bob & Joyce when we first joined First Congregational Church in Westfield NJ.  We were doubly-blessed to also become friends with two of their amazing daughters, Gayle and Ingrid, through Youth Fellowship. Such a wonderful family, filled with energy and always very warm and inviting.

These were the years when Bob worked with the UCC Board of Homeland Ministries. We were not aware of his leadership and legacy on the forefront of racial and gender liberty.  We knew Bob and his family more on the local level -- potluck suppers, Frost Valley weekends, and one memorable children's story where he appeared in the role of Moses and upstaged the minister.  Reading all of the memorials above has really shown a light on his life."

This tribute was added by Janet Rosolanko on 24th June 2015

"I was truly blessed to know the Strommen family.  We met during their years in Westfield as my sons got to know Gayle and Ingrid.  I also became part of the clan as they enfolded me during a difficult time in my life.  They were never more than a phone call away when I needed them.  Bob's quiet strength will be missed by many.  My thoughts and prayers are with all of you now."

This tribute was added by Doris Powell on 23rd June 2015

"Bob and Joyce ministered so tenderly and wisely to our church, South Haven UCC, as we grieved the loss of our pastor, Bob, and called a new pastor. Bob smoothed the way for Rev. Terry Bartlett to be authorized. Terry ministered with us 21+ years and led us in becoming Open and Affirming. Each of Bob's kind acts rippled out in many blessings. May God bless the Strommen family."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 23rd June 2015

"Bob also served for many years as the co-chair of Cleveland Jobs with Justice. He was a huge supporter of working people and strongly believed that workers could gain tremendous benefits from forming and joining trade unions. He was a prophet and is greatly missed.
Edie Rasell"

This tribute was added by mary warren on 23rd June 2015

"My deepest sympathy to you, Joyce.  You and Robert are well remembered by your many friends in Lakewood and all of us old timers still active in the League of Women Voters.  How are you?  Keep in touch.   Fondly,  Mary Warren"

This tribute was added by James D Findlay on 23rd June 2015

"Dear Bob: Your spirit was so strong, caring, compassionate, passionate, and GOOD!  You loved and cared for me, and for so many of us, in just the way we needed.  As I began parish ministry, you were my Father in Faith, my Blessed Brother, who nurtured, challenged, supported, and celebrated me.  You were always kind, committed, supportive, and a joy and pleasure to be with.  Your love for God, and for all of God's people, especially those most marginalized by the prevailing structures of oppression, inspires me, and all who know you.  Your warmth, humor, and PRESENCE, will be DEEPLY MISSED.  I loved you, and was blessed by your love for me.  I love you still!  Shine on in the Halls of Glory, O Wise and Righteous One!  Bob, you are Wonderful!"

This tribute was added by Kelly Kupcak on 23rd June 2015

"I met Bob while serving on the board of Jobs with Justice.  What a tremendous voice for those without!  Bob fought so many good fights and always with love in his heart, and humor and grace.  What a huge loss for all of us.  Prayers and blessings to Joyce and the entire Strommen family."

This tribute was added by Brian Stefan-Szittai on 23rd June 2015

"Since I arrived in Cleveland in late 2001, I knew Bob as a force for justice, especially justice for workers and support for unions. And for him, this was absolutely part of his faith -- and he tried to make others see it as part of their faith as well.  He was a prophet. Bob, ¡presente!
Edie Rasell, Cleveland, OH"

This tribute was added by Bill Tregoning on 23rd June 2015

"I first met Bob & Joyce at Liberation UCC, when it was organized in 1993 and met for worship at Hillel Center on the Case campus. From the first, Bob's open gentle faith and belief in the universal good in all of us struck me deeply. I kiddingly referred to him as the Pope of the UCC --as he was the head of the denomination at that time; his unwavering support of our dedicated LGBT congregation led to its acquiring its own church building in Lakewood not long afterward. For many years my then-partner Jeff and I would help his/our children establish a faith-base in their lives.
Thank you Bob! --now go on into bliss with your God."

This tribute was added by Erik Strommen on 23rd June 2015

"Cy and Gordon Sherman:
We have lovely Deering memories of your parents and also ones of the years we co-chaired UCC Parents of LGBT Children.  Our love and prayers are with the Strommen children but especially with dear Joyce."

This tribute was added by Bill Bordonaro on 23rd June 2015

"I was serving a Lutheran congregation in Rocky River, Ohio and singing with the North Coast Men's Chorus when I first met Bob and Joyce. When it seemed the right time to pursue another call I did so with Bob as my mentor. Bob and Joyce hosted me on my last night in Ohio, and, when it came time for my installation service at Bethany United Church of Christ in Chicago, Bob graciously accepted my invitation to preach, driving from Lakewood for that afternoon service.

Several years later, my future husband and I returned to Ohio so that I could show John the places I'd been and some of the people who were dear to me. Bob and Joyce were certainly on that list. John and I both recall the afternoon we spent together. We had tickets to Jacobs Field but the clouds were thickening and the game was delayed. I called Bob and Joyce:  "Sure, come on over", they said. After our visit, John said that he'd never before felt so welcomed as a gay man (and himself, too, a pastor).

Our deepest sympathies to Joyce for, indeed, the two were a team and a blessing in so many lives, my own included."

This tribute was added by Brian Stefan-Szittai on 23rd June 2015

"Bob was one of my first faith-justice friends when I came to the InterReligious Task Force in 1999. It was clear that he motivated, guided, inspired and supported so many through the Jobs with Justice Coalition and Western Reserve Association-UCC. We have already been missing Bob and Joyce since they left Cleveland. Now we'll miss him more while keeping his spirit alive in our struggles for justice."

This tribute was added by Brian Stefan-Szittai on 23rd June 2015

"Bob Strommen was great example of what a faith-based social justice activist should be.  He was essential in my church having one of the first openly gay pastors.
He was a key advocate for social justice issues in the U.C.C. denomination, as well as a dedicated worker on national and community issues.  Bob understood solidarity- that is, he took sides while loving our enemies.  The world is a better place because of him.   Dale Lindsey, Archwood UCC, Cleveland, OH"

This tribute was added by Brian Stefan-Szittai on 23rd June 2015

"I worked closely with Bob during my time with Cleveland Jobs with Justice—he was a wonderful, inspiring person, and his activism and the human warmth from both Bob and Joyce were great assets in this area. His support was inestimably important in my own work…

Steve Cagan, Cleveland Heights, OH"

This tribute was added by Jean Alexander on 23rd June 2015

"When I arrived in Philadelphia, fresh out of seminary in 1971, it was Bob and Joyce who took me under their wings and helped me survive in that strange new world (to me) of E&R country.  They helped me get ordained, and provided a support system as one of the 2 ordained women in the Penn Southeast Conference.  I am forever grateful for their support and mentoring.  Blessings to you Joyce and to your family."

This tribute was added by Bill Johnson on 22nd June 2015

"I receive this news of Bob Strommen's transformation to eternal life with genuine sorrow and much thanksgiving for the love and laughter and wise counsel that he added to my life over many decades.  My heart literally hurts for Joyce, who has lost the love of her life, and for Erik, Beth, Gayle and Ingrid, and your lovers and children.  My life ebbed and flowed with the Strommens' omnipresence at UCC General Synods, The Coalition, P-FLAG (and UCC Parents of LGBT folks), Liberation Church in Lakewood, Western Reserve Association, and the North Coast Men's Chorus.  How fortunate I have been to have had their love and encouragement on my journey.  Now, I am impoverished.  Society is impoverished.  But I am so very grateful.  May Bob's beautiful spirit rest peacefully in the loving care of the Cosmic Lover.  Sending love and heartfelt sympathy."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 22nd June 2015

"Matthew Strommen:
You loved me from the day I came home. You will forever be in my memory and my heart Pop-Pop. I am so incredibly blessed to be a part of our family. The rest of us live on to carry out your legacy. Know that I will carry on the Strommen name with pride. You are in a better place now, but you will be deeply missed. I love you Grandpa. Rest in peace."

This tribute was added by Megan Alves on 22nd June 2015

"I feel truly blessed to be among the many who knew my friend Ingrid's father not as Mr. Strommen, but as Dad Strommen.
Their door was always open and their house was a second home to me for many years. "Dad' and "Mom" Strommen were always kind and warm and I will never forget the years during which they must have wondered if I was ever going to go home.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of you now and I hope you find comfort in your many happy memories."

This tribute was added by Vicki Miller on 22nd June 2015

"Tammie and I were saddened to hear of Bob's passing,   Our Hearts go out to Joyce and the whole Strommen family.   Bob and Joyce were pillars that held up Liberation for many years.   It was a privilege to know Bob and although it has been a long time since we have have been together I can still see his smile as clear as day."

This tribute was added by Philip Vink on 22nd June 2015

"Bob was a father figure for me. Bob would set down and help me in any way he could we both cried and laughed he was an inspiration to me throughout our ties. I've met Bob and Joyce in 1989 and became members of their family. Bob thank you. Joyce my condolence to you and your friends and family members. Let the flame of light and warmth guide you through your journey giving you light in the darkness and warmth of love and support."

This tribute was added by Scott Rosenstein on 22nd June 2015

"Bob was a wonderful and compassionate mentor, guide and friend to me - and a caring advocate for the churches I served in greater Cleveland while he served as Association Minister with the Western Reserve Association. Bob and Joyce opened their hearts, their home, and their lives to me and to many others. They were highly visible in UCC churches here over the years - always warmly greeting others - and remembering everyone they met! Bob was a man of Christian faith, hope, and love, ministered with deep compassion and caring, and lived a strong commitment to justice for all! Since I learned late last night of his passing, many thoughts of shared times have gone through my mind- and I cherish many warm memories. Joyce and their children and grandchildren are in my thoughts and prayers!"

This tribute was added by James Lumsden on 22nd June 2015

"I cherished Bob as a minister to ministers, a friend and counselor, too. Not only did he help - and challenge - me during our shared time in Cleveland, but he gave me wisdom during my darkest hours. He endured hard times with courage and grace and offered his love and solidarity with humility. I am sorry to hear of his passing and send loving prayers to Joyce."

This tribute was added by Erik Strommen on 22nd June 2015

"Nancy Krody:
On Friday, the Rev. Robert Strommen passed away at the age of 80 after a long siege with heart and kidney and other ailments. Bob and his wife of 57 years, Joyce, lived in Philadelphia in the late '60's to mid-'70's, when he served as the Conference's Minister of Metropolitan Ministry, in which capacity he was involved in a wide variety of social justice issues, especially economic and racial justice. They were members of Tabernacle United Church, and Bob's office was at Old First.  Their home in West Philadelphia was open to many stray folks who wandered through town. They were supportive of all kinds of causes and the people involved in them.

Bob then worked for a time in the NYC office of the UCC, then moved to Cleveland to become Association Minister of the Western Reserve Association, where they welcomed all the national staff as they moved to Cleveland, and where they were very involved in justice issues again.

Joyce has credited their knowing me in their Philadelphia years with helping them accept two of their four children when they came out. In later years, Bob and Joyce became the face of the UCC Parents of LGBT Children group, and they attended every General Synod and Coalition event they could. I recall attending a meeting of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries Board in Cleveland one year that coincided with Cleveland Pride. There were Bob and Joyce riding in the lead car as the parade marshals!"

This tribute was added by Erik Strommen on 22nd June 2015

"Pat Swain:
I'm so so sorry for your father's passing.
He was a wonderful man in every way possible.
My prayers are with you and your family during this very difficult time.
Please tell your mother that I am thinking of her, praying for her and your family.
I can only imagine what she is going through after a lifetime with the death of
her very beloved husband.
Much love to all of you."

This tribute was added by Erik Strommen on 22nd June 2015

"Dear Joyce,

I am so sorry to learn of the loss of your dear Bob.  I've known you both for at least 16 years, and what a great couple you have been to the entire Greater Cleveland area.  His work for the UCC, both of your deep involvement with PFLAG, and your support and love for the community have touched hundreds - probably thousands - of us.

You and Bob were lifted up in this week-end's North Coast Men's Chorus concerts, and so many of us, on stage and in the audience, were touched.

We've missed you very much right here in our community, but the "communion of saints" still means that we've been together, even through the miles.  Now it extends even further with Bob, but he is still very much a part of us.  And you, of course, are too, Joyce.  I've loved your friendship and support through the years, and I'll be keeping you in my prayers at this time of loss, and well beyond.

Don King"

This tribute was added by Susan Stock on 22nd June 2015

"The Strommen home on Hillcrest Ave in Westfield  was a warm, friendly place where I could drop for in for lively, informative conversation. I always enjoyed being with Bob and Joyce.  
As I went through a depression, it was Joyce who gave me a great deal of support and comfort.  I am grateful for having known the Strommens and deeply sorry for their loss of this remarkable man, husband and father.
I'd welcome contact info for Joyce,
You are in my heart."

This tribute was added by Kyle Weigand on 22nd June 2015

"I will never drive by the Strommen house on Lake and Belle and not call it the "Strommen house."  Watching the 4th of July parade from the front yard, visiting on walks, Bob (and Joyce) made that corner of Lakewood warm, inviting and truly special.  I realized how much I learned about acceptance and genuine love for all people from your parents during the 5-6 years I knew them.  Please give your mom a hug.  We miss them in Lakewood."

This tribute was added by Erik Strommen on 22nd June 2015

"Yanela Sims:
On Behalf of SEIU Local 1, I send our condolences from members and staff. Your father was a great man, who was a beacon for social justice and we in the labor movement greatly appreciate his support.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family."

This tribute was added by Peggy Dillner on 22nd June 2015

"I only knew this remarkable man through his remarkable daughter, Ingrid, and her family.  We miss the Zeiglers in our church family.   A large part of her father continues to live in Ingrid and in her family which he loved."

This tribute was added by Rick DeVan on 22nd June 2015

"I don't know the Strommen's well, but I have been to their home for several meetings for various LGBT causes. I remember the first meeting and Bob sang in his big, booming church voice that filled the room, the house, and probably the neighbor's house, too! A treasure for our community. Thank you, Bob Strommen."

This tribute was added by om Ostromek on 22nd June 2015

"Bob , the kind activist. A gentle leader. He will live in my memory forever. He called me to join him in a protest march a few months after my wife passed away and I needed that.  Joyce, my condolences. Love."

This tribute was added by Erik Strommen on 22nd June 2015

"Deb Kline:
Please know that our thoughts are with you and your family.  I so valued the relationship I had with both your Dad and Mom.  A great voice for social justice has been silenced."

This tribute was added by Erik Strommen on 22nd June 2015

"Rev. Kurt Weiser:
I am so sorry to hear this.  Bob was the first person to welcome me to Ohio into my first parish ministry position and remained a true friend and mentor all the years he was here.  Joyce and he would worship at Liberation UCC with us from time to time.
We are all grieving this loss and celebrating his life and ministry.  We will also be holding you and Joyce and your family in our prayers."

This tribute was added by Erik Strommen on 22nd June 2015

"From Jean Alexander:
Your parents were so wonderful to me over 40 years ago when I came as a recent graduate from seminary to Philadelphia.  They made sure I got ordained and created a support system for me.  They were a great team.  I am forever grateful to them."

This tribute was added by Anthony Warmuth on 22nd June 2015

"Mrs. Stronmen, I'm so sorry for your loss. I enjoyed getting to know you and Rev. Strommen through Cleveland Stonewall Democrats and have fond memories of working with you both to advance social justice causes. I'll always remember his kindness and passion for doing what is right.  The communities he served and everyone who knew him are better off because of it. You and your family remain in my prayers."

This tribute was added by Michell Farrow on 22nd June 2015

"Prayers of grace, peace and joy as you celebrate Bob's life.  His journey was fruitful and touched so many along the way."

This tribute was added by Bob Hadfield on 22nd June 2015

"First Erik, thanks for the e-mail. In so many ways I feel that I wouldn't be me without Bob and Joyce. Their impact and influence for the good in my growing up years in Larimer can't be overstated.  They were the answer to prayers I wasn't even able to articulate at the time. They seemed to have all the time and patience in the world for me and I thrived in it. As I write this very inadequate remembrance, I'm just trying to take it all in. All my love to Joyce and to all the Strommen kids and grandkids. Bob Hadfield"

This tribute was added by Phil Porter on 22nd June 2015

"Bob was such a warm and loyal supporter of and participant in the UCC Coalition. As that community gathers in Cleveland this week, we will remember fondly his contributions, commitment and spirit. Much love to Joyce in this time of transition!"

This tribute was added by Erik Strommen on 21st June 2015

"From Cal Zunt:
Your Dad was an amazing man. I know both of your parents well: they were partners in everything.

Your Mom is especially in my prayers."

This tribute was added by Nickie Antonio on 21st June 2015

"Bob and Joyce were family to so many of us. It was wonderful to have them in Lakewood for those precious years. While both supported my political endeavors, they were especially strident because I was the first openly gay person to run and win for both City Council and State Representative. Bob was such a force to be rec ones with when he was advocating for equality, workers rights, or the poor. Jean and I are very sad to hear of his passing. But we know we are so much the better for having known him. He left things so much better than he found them and we are grateful. We send our love to Joyce and the family."

This tribute was added by Ralph Sanderson on 21st June 2015

"I was so very sorry to learn of Bob's passing.  I was told just before the start of the North Coast Men's Chorus concert on Saturday.   Bob and Joyce were so very involved with the Chorus, and this concert was dedicated to them.
Bob was one the first UCC folks I met after moving to Cleveland in 1992.
I hold Bob and Joyce in a very special place in my heart."

This tribute was added by Erik Strommen on 21st June 2015

"My dad's career took him to a variety of places. It has been deeply moving to hear from people from so many different venues about how much Dad was loved."

This tribute was added by Andrew Lang on 21st June 2015

"This is just the first of many tributes from the Open and Affirming movement in the United Church of Christ--a movement that is better and stronger today because people like Bob and Joyce were with us from the beginning. Bob, you and Joyce are, and always will be, part of our family. As the angels lead you to paradise, know that our love is ascending with you."

This tribute was added by Gayle Strommen on 21st June 2015

"From friends of Dad:
Elaine Bast: Vivian McCullough, Mary Powers Miller, Judy Reich and I were at a Northcoast Men's Chorus concert today when they announced Bob had passed away on Friday. It was quite a shock, we had just been musing during lunch about how they were. I learned about social justice and peace through Church in the World at WRA from Bob and Joyce.
I was sharing a room with Joyce at a national UCC women's conference in Charlotte, NC in 2000 when I decided to answer the call to attend seminary. Bob was quite supportive when I went through studied at 2 seminaries when others opposed the process. Bob was a man of compassion, conviction and courage, the likes of which we rarely see. I'm so grateful they were part of my life. Know that my love and prayers go out to all of you.
Ron Koshar:My deepest sympathies go out to Joyce and the family.  They were like my Mom and Dad to me and I truly loved them both and always enjoyed cleaning for them and doing anything I could do to help them out around their home in Lakewood.  I hope her health is holding out during this time of great sorrow for her.  I missed them a lot when they moved to Baltimore."

This tribute was added by John Deckenback on 21st June 2015

"Bob was a great mentor, colleague and friend...  One great lasting image--Bob leading the singing -- late at night -- of old organizers songs at La Foret, the UCC's camp in Colorado...he sang with boundless gusto, the same way he approached  life..."

This tribute was added by Pamela Smith on 21st June 2015

"I never go by the Strommen house in Lakewood, Ohio, without thinking of Bob and Joyce and I always hoped they were doing well.  Now, I am so sad that the family has lost Bob.  What a wonderful man."

This tribute was added by Angela Marra on 21st June 2015

"I am so very sorry for your loss.  I knew Bob through United Church of Christ in Cleveland.   He was a wonderful, caring, loving person, husband, father and friend.  I will never forget him and his inspiration he gave to me through some of my difficult times in the past.  I always hoped I would have the opportunity to visit Bob and Joyce after they moved away from Lakewood - but I never had the chance.  All of my prayers go out to Joyce and Bob's family.  May he forever rest in peace.  (tears and prayers always...)"

This tribute was added by Joseph Mills on 21st June 2015

"Our love goes out to Joyce and all Strommen family.  Marylu and I will always remember the times when the four of us worked together for the WRA, shared meals in Cleveland, visited in Lakewood and saw them when they visited us here in Gig Harbor. God speed beloved mentor and friend."

This tribute was added by Nancy Krody on 21st June 2015

"Well done, good and faithful servant.
Pat and I are surrounding you with our love, Joyce and Erik and Beth and Gayle and Ingrid, till we can hug you in person."

This tribute was added by Kathleen Rolenz on 21st June 2015

"Dear Strommen Family,
Thanks for letting us know of Bob's death.  When I was involved with a clergy group that was working on GBLTQ issues, Bob came to our meetings a couple of times and I remember him as a tireless and inspiring force for justice.  His life has blessed many.  Deepest condolences on the passing of a very fine man."

This tribute was added by Linda M. Krasienko on 21st June 2015

"Thank you Erik for posting your father's transition announcement .
A big thank you to the Strommen family for sharing your wonderful father, (husband) who was father, leader, activist, preacher, theologian, friend and pastoral assistant to many many people.  His legacy will live on in our hearts.  To you and your family, especially Joyce, his wife, at this time, we wish to surround you with our loving prayers and support.  Thank you for considering a memorial service in the Cleveland area in the future.  We are blessed to have known him.  He certainly has been a light in our lives.  Rev. Linda M. Krasienko and Rev. Patti A. Verde"

This tribute was added by Thomas E. Dipko on 21st June 2015

"Joyce and all your family:  Beloved Bob, whose conscience about matters that truly matter, blessed us with candor and substance and yet a twinkle in his eyes.  For me, a son of a Pennsylvania coal miner, his commitment to organized labor was among his grand gifts.  His keen mind, delight in dialogue into the morning hours, love of country music and his earthy humor make his portrait a lasting treasure.  Forgive us, if we stumble for words to speak of him without our usual silent hyphen between Bob - Joyce.  Sandy and I wish you God's peace."

This tribute was added by Jack Haney on 21st June 2015

"Bob was and will always be a soul mate, as is Joyce. Well done, dear soul. Well done. They welcome me when I was fired from a church for being Gay, and with them I lived for over four months in their home as a member of the family.  Love. Especially to Joyce."

This tribute was added by John Lardin on 21st June 2015

"allow me to express my deepest condolences and prayers for you and your family.

I especially hold Joyce  in my heart and prayers. I have been able to call both your mom and dad friends for over 20 years - and have had the joy and pleasure of staying with them in Cleveland on occasion.

Your parents were an important part of my young adult life when the came to the UCC - and your mom was most certainly a wonderful surrogate mom and Bob was ferociously supportive too, especially when I was estranged from my own parents. I am not surprised she is taking this hard - she is strong but the love your folks shared was and will continue to be a bedrock example of unconditional love to me.

Bob will be missed but never forgotten. Know o hold you all in my heart and offer prayers for healing as a new journey begins inspired by not a Bly work Bob did for the church and All of us who knew him and more importantly his famy. I especially hold Joyce in my heart and prayers - as she moves forward in life.

John Lardin
Detroit Michigan"

This tribute was added by Davida Crabtree on 21st June 2015

"Bob's spirit was irrepressible! I remember so many times when a word or a look from him would give me the encouragement I needed when I was facing down the church about women's issues.  Very often when we were together, he would burst into "Solidarity Forever". I remember the look on his face when he realized that I knew all the words...I think I surprised him! His passion for justice sustained many of us, and shaped the UCC and our commitments in important ways. Special blessings to Joyce and "kids" (who aren't anymore but are forever...). Much love,"

This tribute was added by David Loar on 21st June 2015

"Bob was a powerful mentor. A man with a great smile and laugh! He brought us all along on the journey for justice for all Gid's creation. God bless you Joyce and your family."

Leave a Tribute:
Invite your family and friends
to visit this memorial:

Subscribe to receive e-mail notifications when others contribute to this memorial.

This memorial is administered by:

Erik Strommen
Gayle Strommen


Have a suggestion for us?

We are waiting for your feedback!