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Eugene Joseph Strzesak Jr.

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BENNINGTON -- Mr. Eugene “Joe” Strzesak Jr., 66, a longtime resident of Bennington, died Monday, Dec. 26, 2005, at the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, following a long, hard-fought battle after suffering several strokes.

Joe was born in Pawtucket, R.I., on Dec. 8, 1939, the son of the late Eugene J. and Mary (Kauras) Strzesak Sr. He grew up in Pawtucket, where he graduated from Pawtucket High School. Following high school, he entered the U.S. Navy, where he served aboard the U.S.S. Fulton for three years.

Joe was a gifted athlete who played professional football for three years for the New England Patriots and semi-pro football for the Syracuse Stormers and Key West Jaguars, where he rushed for seven touchdowns in the first quarter of one game. He became known as “Bulldozer Strzesak” for his style of play and was able to teach that style while coaching football at Bennington High School.

Joe always enjoyed people and had worked in many capacities throughout his life, including director of admissions at the former Green Mountain Park in Pownal and as an iron worker for Local 12 of Albany, N.Y.

He worked on many large projects in the Capital District, including Interstate 787 around Albany, the state office buildings and the Egg. He also worked as a draftsman for the former Union Carbide Corp. and Mack Molding in Arlington, where he was instrumental in designing many innovative products. He had owned and operated Joe’s Mobil in North Bennington.

However, Joe’s real talent was in the antique business, where he quickly became an expert in buying and selling all types of antiques. As the demand grew, he opened a retail outlet as well as an auction house. With his expertise, he became widely sought after as an antique appraiser and auctioneer and was considered one of the best in the country.

When the business climate changed in 1986, he and his family relocated to Atlanta, Ga., where he established Georgia Peach Auctions, specializing in dark-stained mahogany finished pieces. He returned to Bennington in 2001, and after suffering a debilitating stroke, lived at the Vermont Veterans Home.

Joe had a passion for antique and classic cars. He owned many and was the past president of the East Coast Model A Ford Club. He was also a pilot and enjoyed flying his own plane. He started the Men’s Tennis League in Bennington and played in many tournaments. Joe was very artistically talented and was a die-hard New England sports fan, always supporting the Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins.

He leaves his wife Christine (Davis) Strzesak, whom he married in 1964; their son, Scott Strzesak; a granddaughter, Victoria Strzesak; three sisters, Christine Croff of Bennington, Kathleen Backmann of Daytona, Fla., and Mary Dee Daugherty of Nebraska; an uncle, Ernie Strzesak of Seekonk, Mass.; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Funeral services will be held at the Hanson-Walbridge Funeral Home on Friday, Dec. 30, 2005, at 11 a.m. Burial will follow in the Veterans War Memorial Cemetery on the grounds of the Vermont Veterans Home. Friends may call at the Hanson-Walbridge Funeral Home on Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. when the family will be present.

Memorial gifts in memory of Joe may be made to the Vermont Veterans Home Activity Fund, c/o of the Hanson-Walbridge Funeral Home, 213 West Main St., Bennington, VT 05201.

To send condolences to the family of Eugene “Joe” Strzesak, visit www.sheafuneralhomes.com.
Published in Bennington Banner on Dec. 28, 2005
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