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Gene W. Strawman (1925 - 2013)

Obituary
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Gene W. Strawman

Johnston

Gene W. Strawman, 88, of Johnston, Iowa died on March 8, 2013, at Hospice Kavanagh House in Des Moines of complications from cancer.

Services will be held 11 a.m. Monday, March 11, 2013, at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Des Moines. Committal services will be held 2 p.m. Monday at Iowa Veterans Cemetery near Van Meter.

Gene William Strawman was born on January 24, 1925, in Anamosa, Iowa, the son of Albert (Bert) W. and Marjorie L. Strawman. A member of the golf team and drama club, Gene graduated from Anamosa High School in 1943. He enrolled at Iowa State University, then felt the call to serve his country, and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in late 1943. During World War II, Gene received education and navigator training at various military bases, and at Butler University, before shipping off to the South Pacific. He was a 1st Lieutenant and navigator for the 13th Air Force (commonly called Jungle Air Force), and flew on 39 bombing missions on a B-24 Liberator airplane. Gene was always industrious and hard working, starting as a young child working in his parents' strawberry field and also was a carrier for the Anamosa newspaper. As an adult, he was a successful salesman, and later co-founded Peerless Supply Inc. in Des Moines. On November 28, 1947, he was united in marriage to Marjorie A. Fitzsimmons. This marriage was blessed with three children, Jerry, Tom, and Linda, and lasted 49 1/2 years before Marge passed away in 1997. On March 13, 1999, Gene married his childhood sweetheart Lucille E. (Remley) Sunleaf, and saw his family triple in size with the addition of her family. Gene was a dedicated mentor for SCORE, Al-Anon, and the Boy Scouts of America. He was head usher at Westminster Presbyterian Church, where he was a member for 66 years, and was a member of the 13th Air Force Veterans.

Gene had untiring energy and ideas, and was always researching or working on a task. His most recent project was beginning to organize a memorial to WWII Air Corps veterans, to be showcased at the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum. He loved to golf and travel, especially to Orange Beach, Alabama, during the winter months. Gene loved to bake cookies and bars and make Jello for the holidays. He was a kind, loving, and optimistic man, who was very generous with his time and talents.

Left to honor and cherish his memory include Jerry (Ardie) Strawman, Tom (Jan Nuetzmann) Strawman, Linda (Mike) Baldwin, Dave (Sue) Sunleaf, Larry (Mary) Williams, Ed (Laurine) Williams, Lucy (Curt) Ziemet, and Art (Amy) Sunleaf. Also grandchildren Carey (Chris Boysen) Seger, Jeff (Michelle) Strawman, Ryan (Heidi Nelson) Baldwin, Whitney (Mark) Rech, Ella Strawman, Brie (Matt) Brubaker, Beth Williams, Paul Williams, Brian (fiancee Cindy Mask) Williams, Mandy (Stephen) Daley, Grant Zeimet, Maja Stina, Annika, and Eliza Sunleaf: and great-grandchildren Taylor and Cael Boysen, John-Paul and Lainey Strawman, Ava Lucille Rech, Anna Nelson Baldwin, Emilee Williams, and Anna and Jackson Buzzard. Gene was preceded in death by his wives, Marjorie A., and Lucille E., his parents, and his sister, Nelda L., and step-son, Roger Sunleaf.

Gene's family would like to express their thanks to Dr. Mohammed Milhem, Dr. Kristi Chang, Dr. Douglas Henstrom, and Dr. Richard Allen of the University of Iowa Hospitals; to Dr. Richard Rinehart, Dr. Richard Deming, and Dr. Brad Hiatt of Des Moines; and to the exceptional staffs of Powell 3 and ICU at Iowa Methodist Medical Center and the Kavanagh House for all the wonderful care given to Gene.

Gene asked, in his final days, that his family should all walk in his footsteps, and lead long, happy lives. We will honor his memory by doing just that!

The family will receive friends from 3 - 5 p.m. Sunday, March 10, at Iles Funeral Homes-Westover Chapel. Memorials may be given to Westminster United Presbyterian Church or John Stoddard Cancer Center (Powell 3). Online condolences will be welcomed at IlesCares.com.

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Published in Des Moines Register on Mar. 10, 2013
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