Well done, good and faithful servant, well done
  • 80 years old
  • Born on September 17, 1934 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.
  • Passed away on June 19, 2015 in Bellevue, Washington, United States.

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.

Posted by Gayle Strommen on 23rd September 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 17th September 2018
Happy birthday Dad, say hi to Mom and Beth. I miss you.
Posted by Andrew Lang on 17th September 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 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
Posted by Gayle Strommen on 17th September 2017
Happy 83rd birthday. Love you. Hope Mom is celebrating with you.
Posted 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.
Posted 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!!!
Posted by Gayle Strommen on 22nd January 2017
Oh, Daddy, I want to call you. This is nerve wracking. I miss you. Love you.
Posted 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!!!
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on 17th September 2016
Happy birthday Dad. Mom and I are going to dinner to celebrate. Love you.
Posted 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.
Posted by Gayle Strommen on 12th September 2016
We won the opener! Go Steelers! Yay, Daddy!
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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
Posted by Gayle Strommen on 8th April 2016
Thinking of you. Got over my mad. Love you Daddy.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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
Posted 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.
Posted 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!
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted by Rob Rosolanko on 3rd July 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.
Posted 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
Posted 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.
Posted 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 .
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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.
Posted 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
Posted 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
Posted 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!
Posted 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.
Posted 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

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