William L. Strahan passed away peacefully on Nov. 23.
He was a quiet and humble hero who was known for his wonderful smile, expressive story-telling, and deep faith. He was a kind-hearted man who helped people with no expectations of anything in return. He loved nature (bee-keeper and Master Gardener).
An amazing man who lived an extraordinary life, Bill was born in Wadsworth, Ill. on March 8, 1918. He could remember riding in his grandparents’ horse & buggy as a small child. He was tackle for Wisconsin Badgers football, and catcher for University of Illinois baseball. During WWII, he flew dive-bombers as carrier pilot in the Pacific—first from Guadalcanal, then from USS Hornet—earning Distinguished Flying Cross, three air medals and Purple Heart. USS Hornet and Carrier Air Group 11 were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Bill then served as carrier flight training officer during the Korean War timeframe.
In 1946, he married Grace King. In 1953, Bill left the Navy at the rank of Lieutenant Commander to honor the request of family so that his children could live close to both sets of grandparents in the Midwest. His degree was in Agriculture, and he went into dairy and crop farming. He also did soil analysis and topography maps for University of Illinois Extension Service, worked for Investors Diversified Services, and was a realtor in Illinois and Wisconsin. During those years, Bill and Grace raised eight kids in Antioch, Ill. In 1987, at age 69, Bill joined the Peace Corps and served in Nepal as Crop Extension Specialist.
Bill and Grace later resided in Gilman, Wis. They enjoyed gardening and visiting relatives and friends around the country. They moved to Chugwater in 2008. In 2011, Bill went on the “Honor Flight” to see the WWII Monument in Washington, DC. In 2014, he was featured in “ELEVEN,” a WWII documentary about his Air Group Eleven: http://www.eleventhemovie.com/. Some of his WWII artifacts and his white uniform (pictured on the cover of the DVD/Blu-ray pack) are permanently on display in Air Group Eleven exhibit aboard USS Hornet, now a floating museum off Alameda, Calif.
Bill is survived by wife, Grace (Chugwater). Also surviving are his children - Kathleen Strom (Chugwater), Joel Strahan (Bristol, Wis.), Janet Haley (Libertyville, Ill.), Priscilla Smith (Pueblo, Colo.), Paul Strahan (Oshkosh, Wis.), Will (Jana) Strahan (Chugwater), Jonathan Strahan (Gurnee, Ill.), eleven grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. His son, Gary, preceded him in death in 2012.
Bill is being cremated. Announcements will be made for services next spring in Illinois. Internment will be at Hickory Union Cemetery on Edwards Rd, Antioch, Ill.
The Gorman Funeral Homes – Platte Chapel of Wheatland are in charge of the arrangements.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.gormanfh.com