Kenneth Strauss, 69, died on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, at his home in Grangeville, Idaho, with his family by his side. He was born in Bridgeport, Ohio, on April 2, 1947, to Anthony and Emma Strauss. He was the second of five children: with older brother Matt, and younger sisters Emily, Alane and Faye.
Ken spent his younger years hunting and fishing with his father and uncles, and it was a time in his life that he always spoke of with great fondness. He especially loved the fall season for the rest of his life because of those early fall mornings hunting with his family. One of his proudest achievements was becoming an Eagle Scout in 1961. In his early days he wanted to be a game warden and finally settled on becoming a forester. He attended Bottineau Junior College and graduated from Utah State University. After working summers in Potlatch, Idaho, he officially came to consider himself a westerner. He loved his first professional job as a forester in Covelo, Calif., and always said he couldn’t believe they paid him to do this. He married Debbie Hooker in 1970 and they had son Tony in 1971. They later divorced and Ken continued working in Grangeville for the Forest Service. In 1975 he married Leta and in 1976 they moved to Hamilton, Mont. His career with the Forest Service continued, with transfers to Oregon, back to Montana, then Wisconsin, and he ended his career back in Utah where he’d graduated from college. Ken and Leta retired to Grangeville in 2002 where they’d bought property on the prairie, and began the next 14 years of remodeling, improving and generally enjoying retirement.
Ken was always active in each community where he lived. He started a new Lions organization in Oregon and Toastmasters in Montana. He served on the school board in Oregon and the hospital board in Grangeville. He had many interests and hobbies, and everything he started he fully immersed himself in and became a master of. He made such awesome sausage and smoked meats that people frequently called him for advice. He loved tying flies, which he generously shared with friends. He taught all of his children and grandchildren to fish and helped them with their first hunting trips. He was a special and remarkable husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. His commitment to his family was unequaled and he saw his responsibility to them as his life’s work. He always had time to take the little kids to the hen house to gather eggs or take them on four-wheeler rides. He will be missed not only by his family but also the many, many friends he made everywhere he went. He knew all the names of clerks in the stores he frequented, and never passed up an opportunity to make new friends with the people he met. He wrote notes to sick friends and maintained lifelong friendships with classmates, college friends and people from every place he’d ever lived. Throughout his 5-and-one-half-year battle with cancer he was an inspiration to friends and family with his positive attitude and unshakable enjoyment of life, and he always had time for a story. His infectious laughter was a characteristic people often used to describe him.
He leaves behind his wife, Leta; son, Tony Strauss; stepchildren: Tony McElhiney, Tisha Lawrence and Brooke Hallman; five grandchildren: Kyle McElhiney, Alyssa Hallman, Jack Lawrence, Trey Hallman and Amy Hallman; and two great-grandchildren: Jayden and Colby.
A graveside service for Ken will be Saturday, Sept. 3, at 11 a.m. at the Mt. Idaho Cemetery with a potluck luncheon to follow at the Mt. Idaho Baptist Church fellowship hall. Arrangements are under the direction of the Blackmer Funeral Home of Grangeville. Send condolences to the family to Blackmerfuneralhome.com.
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