Gary Dean Strasser Sr., 72
Gary Dean Strasser, Sr. passed away at his home In Deerbrook, WI, the morning of January 23, 2019.
Gary was born in Antigo, WI Feb. 15, 1946 to the late Leeland and Norma Strasser. He grew up on a farm north of Antigo and lived there with his parents, brother, and two sisters until he was 9 years old. Then his father Lee got a job on the railroad as an engine conductor, which moved the family to Cicero, IL, a suburb of Chicago. Gary met his wife Carol in high school, while he attended Morton West in Berwyn and she attended Morton East in Cicero. Their good friend Bob Kiefer introduced them, and that was it! They were married in 1967 and lived in Stickney and Brookfield, IL before moving to Antigo.
Gary grew to love hunting, fishing, and shooting as a young boy on the farm, which eventually led him to build a career out of a sport he was so passionate about. Gary was first a computer software analyst at Western Electric back when computers used to take up a whole floor. Tired of the grind, he studied criminal justice at Northwestern University which led to a career in law enforcement. In 1969, he started his first patrolman post in Stickney, IL. He moved from there to Riverside, IL, where he was a patrolman and eventually made sergeant. He was proud to wear blue but never let his love of hunting fade away. He enjoyed teaching hunter safety classes at the police headquarters to ensure everyone knew that you could enjoy a firearm if you were safe about it. He even made his hobby a business. He first owned a business called Lockworks, which helped firearm owners fix firearms and keep them clean for safety. He and his partner Jack Levvy were the go-to guys in south side of Chicago if you needed a relic firearm restored or cleaned. In 1980 Gary and Carol took his love for hunting to another level, and made his hobby into a new business. It was then he started Northwoods Adventures, a travel agency just for hunting and fishing. Northwoods is known for being the longest travel adventure company in the business. Gary believed in never sending anyone on a trip he hadn’t been on himself. This key principle for his business allowed him to tour the world doing more than dreaming about dream hunts, but actually going on these hunts. From Alaska, to New Mexico hunting with his son Gary Jr., to Mongolia and Africa where he met some of his most treasured friends. He also helped hunting enthusiasts create many Safari International chapters throughout the world. In 1995, Gary was able to “retire” from the police force and move to a beautiful home he built with his wife over the previous 10 year period in the woods in Deerbrook, WI, where he continued to manage Northwoods as President with Carol as the Vice President of everything else to this day. Gary continued his love for shooting by serving as director of the Northeast Zone Trap Club, and was one of the founding members who established the shooting range in Antigo. He attended the annual state shoot in Rome, WI every year, and even won an award this last year right after having valve replacement surgery. Gary was a Fox news addict, a patriot, and loved to debate politics.
Gary was a fighter and had many health struggles these past 10 years and he always took them head on with determination. Gary was blessed with many family and friends near and far and the family is ever grateful for the support over the years as he fought his health battles.
Gary is survived by his wife Carol (Miller); daughter, Susan (Rob) Ewing; daughter-in-law Julie Strasser; granddaughters, Kylie and Savannah Strasser, and Ava; brother-in-law, Ernie (Judy) Miller; sisters Judy (Larry) Smykal, and Bari (George) Rezebek; nephews Jeff (Patty) Smykal, Tim (Susan) Smykal, Adam (Emily) Miller, and Steven Miller; nieces Debbie Smykal, and Sandra (Nate) Lineman; and many great nieces and great nephews.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Leeland and Norma Strasser of Antigo; his brother, Daniel Strasser; his son Gary Jr.; and his parents-in-law, Ernest and Eleanor Miller.
A funeral service will be held at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 5674 County Rd. E, Deerbrook, WI at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, with Rev. Donald Engebretson officiating. A wake will be held at the church from noon-2:30 on Saturday.
Gary’s final resting place will be at Woodlawn Cemetery in North Riverside, IL, with his son and beloved in-laws Ernest and Eleanor Miller. A short burial service will be held at the Woodlawn Cemetery chapel, 7750 Cermak Rd, Forest Park, IL, on Monday at 1:00 p.m. with Reverend Walter E. Otten officiating. Interment will follow.