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Phoenix, AZ 85016
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William "Bill" Straus

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William "Bill" Straus Obituary
William "Bill" Straus

Phoenix - William "Bill" Straus passed away on February 10, 2018 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. Bill was a proud, life-long Phoenician. He was born and raised in the Valley and except for his college years at the University of Iowa and a decade in Southern California, he spent his entire life within the Phoenix city limits. Bill had boundless enthusiasm for the city and his commitment to the community is evidenced by his longstanding participation in all aspects of life here including in politics, civil rights, entertainment, media, and sports. He was engaged throughout his life in a variety of community theater productions, including acting in many plays during his retirement. He served on the boards of the Anti-Defamation League, Sun Angels Foundation, Boys and Girls Club, the 100 Club and the Theatre Artists Studio. Bill was authentic. He never had any use for shielding who he was from the world and anyone who spent any time with him knew exactly where Bill stood and where they stood with him. Bill was an open book emotionally. He wasn't a man to hide his emotions and teared up frequently when talking about his kids' accomplishments and his grandchildren. The memories of his brother, Robert "Coke" Straus, his mom Marcia Straus and his dad Malcolm Straus, all of who predeceased him, were a bittersweet blessing which he frequently reflected upon. Bill was outspoken. As a local radio talk show host for 9 years at KTAR, Bill debated topics such as the then burgeoning militia movement, hate crime legislation, OJ Simpson and UFOs. Regardless of the discussion, he was unafraid to share his sometimes unconventional opinions. Bill loved to listen, teach and learn and he embraced debate across the spectrum. He came to think of some of his most disagreeable listeners as personal friends. The breakdown in civil discourse over the last decade or so weighed heavily on Bill. Bill honored the legacies of fellow Phoenicians, Muhammad Ali and Pat Tillman, in taking on sometimes unpopular positions despite personal risk. As the Executive Director of the ADL, he stood up for the marginalized and underrepresented such as the family of Balbir Singh Sodhi who was assassinated following 9/11 and American citizens and immigrants who were subject to racial profiling by the Maricopa County Sherriff's department. Bill was rewarded for his strength of conviction by death threats from neo-nazis and white supremacists. Bill collected friends and admirers throughout his life and they shared with him his love of laughter. His sense of humor was both wry and juvenile and he was often the victim of his own self-deprecating jokes. Too many conversations with friends and family started with "Do you remember the Seinfeld episode when . . ." Sadly, he wasn't able to see one of his favorite bands, the Moody Blues, inducted into the Rock n' roll Hall of Fame this upcoming April. Bill was a lifetime sports fan. Every year in the fall, he would announce that this would be ASU's year to win both the Pac-12 and the Rose Bowl and he went to every home football game at Sun Devil Stadium. He coached his son's team at Arcadia Little League, and then served as assistant coach (with his son Charlie as coach) for five years to his grandsons' Arcadia Little League teams—taking home the League championship in 2016. Horse racing was a particular passion and he spent years calling races at Turf Paradise and Prescott Downs in Arizona, Santa Fe Downs in New Mexico, Prescott Downs and Commodore Downs in Pennsylvania. Ask him his favorite athlete of all time, and he would invariably answer, Triple Crown winner, Secretariat. Bill was 68 and is survived by his son Charlie, his daughter Jenni Cohen (Matt), his three grandchildren Max, Matty and Maci and more friends and family than the luckiest among us could dream to have. In lieu of flowers, please either do something kind for someone less fortunate or make donations to Hospice of the Valley. Services will be held on Tuesday, February 13th at 10:00 am at Congregation Beth Israel, 10460 N. 56th St. in Scottsdale. Interment to follow. Arrangements by Sinai Mort
Published in The Arizona Republic on Feb. 14, 2018
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