Jack Richard Stroman
November 25, 1930 – July 3, 2018
Jack Richard Stroman, who loved red rocks, American cars, the latest television technology and making recipes his own, died peacefully at home July 3, 2018. He was 87. Jack was born Nov. 25, 1930, in Fostoria, Ohio, the third of four children to Cena and Harry Stroman, who sold tractors through Stroman Implement Co. and then Packards, fostering Jack's lifelong fascination with cars. His love of televisions and electronics dated to high school, when one of his first jobs was selling and repairing black-and-white sets. After graduating from Fostoria High School, he served four years in the U.S. Air Force, working on radios and, through a stint in San Antonio, getting his first taste of a Texas summer. He returned to Ohio to attend his beloved Ohio State University, graduating in 1959 with a degree in electrical engineering.
For the next six decades, he would cheer on his Buckeyes, following them on a cross-country trip to the Rose Bowl, watching every game on TV and registering his disgust at every penalty and fumble. Jack worked for Dow Chemical in Denver and Boeing in Seattle before moving back to Ohio with two little girls, Linda and Kamela. While working for Bendix, he patented control-systems technology on nuclear warheads even as he was earning an MBA at Wright State University and raising a young family. The Stroman house literally lit up its Kettering neighborhood every Christmas. Long before such things were easy or common, Jack designed holiday displays of dancing lights set to music, drawing lines of cars and coverage by the local news. For Jack, one more string of Christmas lights was always better.
When Houston boomed in the 1970s, Jack and his family moved to Texas. He took an engineering job at AMF Tuboscope while living in suburban Missouri City. In the 1980s, Jack moved to Austin, where he worked for Lockheed until he retired. In retirement, Jack married Sandy Thornton, and the two embarked on weeks-long car adventures, often working in a drive through the American West and, to the frightened frustration of his family, always without a seat belt. He made sure to memorialize that feat on his gravestone, which reads, "He drove a million and never clicked it."
Jack had fallen in love with the red rock country around the Colorado River while travelling with his family as a child. And so when he and Sandy became part-time residents of Moab, Utah, Jack was quick to buy a Jeep, a jacked-up, bright-blue beauty with "Rockhopper" written on the side. And hop rocks he did, scaring and delighting his passengers on the toughest jeep trails around Moab, trails with names like Cliff Hanger, Hell's Revenge and Metal Masher. The White Rim Trail through Canyonlands National Park was always a picturesque favorite. If something went wrong with the Jeep - or rather, when something went wrong with the Jeep - Jack could get under the hood or an axle and get it back on the trail. His love of red rocks and technology came together in the early days of the Internet when he published one of the first online travel guides to the canyonlands.
In Utah and in Austin, Jack liked to plan and host group outings and would always bring more food than could possibly be eaten. Jack loved to cook, adapting his favorite restaurant dishes and always making them a little better with more cheese, more butter or more bacon.
Fittingly, Jack's favorite song was "Don't Fence Me In," which he recalled loving the first time he heard it on New Year's Eve 1944. It will be played at his burial in a private service in Llano. He is survived by his wife, Sandy; daughters Linda Wylie and Kamela Bridges and their husbands; stepsons Lance, Trey and Chad Thornton and their wives; and eight grandchildren.
- Graveside Service Friday, July 6, 2018