ForeverMissed
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. Sadly, his beloved wife Joyce, passed in August 2017, two years after Bob, and his daughter Beth in May 2018 of cancer. He is currently survived by his children Erik, 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.

Posted by Jack Haney on October 5, 2021
Bob and Joyce gave me a home when my parish fired me for being Gay and I have lost touch and this webpage appeared today. I am so thankful, but full of sorrow that Joyce and Beth have both passed as well. May they all Rest In Peace and Rise in Glory. May people would try to reach me my email is—
userhn9650@gmail.com. I am crippled with arthritis and severe heart problems, but at 83 I live with my partner Eric Braitmayer in Fairhaven, MA, and otherwise happy, and miss Bob and Joyce—a mystery solved.
Posted by Nancy Krody on September 17, 2021
Still missing your presence and wisdom all the years we knew one another. Love to you and Joyce and Beth!
Posted by om Ostromek on June 19, 2021
He was there for me when my wife’s died. Helped me to get out and contribute by talking me into a protest against a store’s wage and benefit policy. Grateful.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on June 19, 2021
Six years. I still miss you so much Dad. There is, and has been so much going on in America and the world that I would have lived to talk to you about and get your insights. That was always so helpful and I always learned a new perspective. Today, Juneteenth, is now a federal holiday, I won’t ever have to work on your Remembrance Day again. I know you would likely say reparations would be more helpful to those freed than a holiday, but we take what we can get. I love you. Hug Mom and Beth for me.
Posted by Nancy Krody on June 19, 2021
Well, now you know that Juneteenth is a national holiday. That's one way to remember when you left us. Glad you missed the pandemic and the worst of Trumpism. But, I'd still love to sit with you in Lakewood or Barnegat to talk politics and life! Love to you and Joyce and Beth!

Nancy
Posted by Nancy Krody on September 18, 2020
Belated happy birthday, Bob. Still miss you, but glad you're missing all the turmoil here these days. Got your absentee ballot yet?! Love to all three of you!
Posted by Andrew Lang on June 19, 2020
I continue to miss you both, Bob and Joyce! We know you're still part of us as we do our best to continue your work.
Posted by Nancy Krody on June 19, 2020
Hard to believe it's been five years since you left us. Happy Juneteenth birthday. I expect you would be right in the middle of today's celebrations and tomorrow's events with the Moral March in DC.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on December 17, 2019
Hey Daddy, I went to Pittsburgh this weekend to see a Steelers game with Matt. You would have hated how cold it was, and we lost, but at least it was to Buffalo who has a chance to take their division from New England. It was kind of hard being there and not being able to call you or talk to you about the game. I miss you. Love you.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on November 25, 2019
I heard your voice in a dream the other night. It was one of those dreams where I don’t remember or don’t know that you are gone in the dream. Then you spoke, and it was your voice, and I remembered you were gone, and I woke up. I can’t remember what you said. I just know how happy I was to hear your voice again. I miss you Daddy.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on November 11, 2019
Daddy, it’s a classic Steelers season. You would have declared the season over about a dozen times already. Today, we made it over .500, and I thought of you constantly. Watched the game with Matthew, wish you were here. Love you, miss you.
Posted by Nancy Krody on September 20, 2019
Hope Bob, Joyce, Beth, and Pat had a great party for Bob's 85th!
Posted by Gayle Strommen on September 17, 2019
Happy 85th birthday Daddy. I miss you. I miss your sense of humor, your wisdom, and your faith. I am glad you are with Beth and Mommy, but I sure wish I could have you all here with me. Celebrate well.
Posted by Nancy Krody on June 19, 2019
On my way from Philly to Milwaukee for General Synod, remembering sounds past with you and Joyce. R.I.P.
Nancy
Posted by Gayle Strommen on September 23, 2018
Really would have loved to be able to talk to you yesterday. Had a conversation about faith that I know you could have helped me with. All the little moments are the ones that make me feel your loss so much more. Love you.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on September 17, 2018
Happy birthday Dad, say hi to Mom and Beth. I miss you.
Posted by Andrew Lang on September 17, 2018
On behalf of the Open and Affirming movement in the United Church of Christ, which Bob and Joyce helped to found and supported over the years, I am grateful that their memory is still alive, and their loving ministry over many years continues to be a blessing and to bear fruit in the lives of many LGBTQ seekers who, thanks to them, were restored to the Body of Christ.
Posted by Nancy Krody on September 18, 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
Posted by Gayle Strommen on September 17, 2017
Happy 83rd birthday. Love you. Hope Mom is celebrating with you.
Posted by Nancy Krody on June 19, 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.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on February 2, 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!!!
Posted by Gayle Strommen on January 22, 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!!!
Posted by Gayle Strommen on January 22, 2017
Oh, Daddy, I want to call you. This is nerve wracking. I miss you. Love you.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on December 25, 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.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on December 17, 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.
Posted by Andrew Lang on September 17, 2016
Bob, what are birthdays like in heaven? We miss you, and are grateful you're still a presence in our lives.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on September 17, 2016
Happy birthday Dad. Mom and I are going to dinner to celebrate. Love you.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on September 12, 2016
We won the opener! Go Steelers! Yay, Daddy!
Posted by Gayle Strommen on June 29, 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.
Posted by Nancy Krody on June 20, 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.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on May 4, 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.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on April 28, 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
Posted by Gayle Strommen on April 28, 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.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on April 8, 2016
Thinking of you. Got over my mad. Love you Daddy.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on April 3, 2016
Dad, I need you, mom needs you, sometimes I am so angry that you are gone I can't handle it.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on March 21, 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.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on March 11, 2016
Missing you a lot tonight Daddy. So many things going on I would love to talk to you about.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on January 5, 2016
I miss you Dad. I am having a hard time starting a year where you will not be here.
Posted by Tamara Burke on September 3, 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.
Posted by Howie & Sara Nixon on August 23, 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.
Posted by Joan Ishibashi on July 30, 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.
Posted by Dave Schwab on July 30, 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.
Posted by Olivia White on July 23, 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.
Posted by Stephen Szilagyi on July 23, 2015
Thank you Joyce and Bob fo being wonderful and trusting friends. God bless and comfort your family, Jeannie and Steve
Posted by Angela Marra on July 19, 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!
Posted by Alfred Cowger on July 18, 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.
Posted by David Flaherty on July 5, 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.
Posted by Jan Bauer on July 5, 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.
Posted by william Rader on July 5, 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.
Posted by Rob Rosolanko on July 3, 2015
I spent so much of my childhood at the Strommen's house in Westfield, NJ...it 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.
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Recent Tributes
Posted by Jack Haney on October 5, 2021
Bob and Joyce gave me a home when my parish fired me for being Gay and I have lost touch and this webpage appeared today. I am so thankful, but full of sorrow that Joyce and Beth have both passed as well. May they all Rest In Peace and Rise in Glory. May people would try to reach me my email is—
userhn9650@gmail.com. I am crippled with arthritis and severe heart problems, but at 83 I live with my partner Eric Braitmayer in Fairhaven, MA, and otherwise happy, and miss Bob and Joyce—a mystery solved.
Posted by Nancy Krody on September 17, 2021
Still missing your presence and wisdom all the years we knew one another. Love to you and Joyce and Beth!
Posted by om Ostromek on June 19, 2021
He was there for me when my wife’s died. Helped me to get out and contribute by talking me into a protest against a store’s wage and benefit policy. Grateful.
Recent stories

Happy birthday Daddy.

Shared by Gayle Strommen on September 17, 2019
I went to see Cousin Ann on Saturday, you obviously know that your sister, Aunt Nancy has passed and joined you and Mom and Beth. We were talking about religion and I realized how much I miss being able to talk to you about God. I hope you are celebrating well. Down here, the Steelers are in trouble, Ben is out for the season and our defense is struggling. I got some civil war books from Cousin Nancy that were Uncle Tom’s, another topic I miss talking to you about. I can’t believe you have been gone for four years. Happy 85th birthday. I love you.
Shared by Nancy Krody on September 17, 2019
Happy birthday, Bob! Hope you and Joyce and Beth and Pat are celebrating in fine style today. Miss all of you so much. (By the way, in my June message, that should have read "Synods" instead of "sounds"!)

Tribute from PFLAG Cleveland

Shared by Gayle Strommen on June 21, 2015

I just received the news about your dad. Please accept our sincere condolences on the loss of your father and please extend our thoughts and prayers to your mother and the rest of your family.

 

Your mom and dad were loyal and longtime members of PFLAG Cleveland. Their warm and caring attitude extended to everyone wherever they went. Bob will be sorely missed and my heart aches for Joyce. 

 

I will pass along the news to our members many of whom benefitted from your dad's wise counsel. 

 

Warmly 

Sharon 

 

Sharon Groh-Wargo

President,  PFLAG Cleveland