Mary Earlene Strinko, age 95 of Chesterfield, Missouri, passed away peacefully in her home on December 9, 2017, at approximately 7:40 PM. Affectionately known by family and friends as Earlene, her final days were spent in the care of her loved ones who desire to celebrate her life as opposed to mourn her death.
Earlene was born second to the youngest of six siblings in Bumpus Mills, Tennessee. At the age of six, she traveled north with her three brothers and two sisters to the thriving industrial community of Middletown, Ohio. She would graduate from Middletown High School and meet Thomas John “T. J.” Strinko soon thereafter, following him to New York City where Tom had been stationed for service in the Coast Guard. On June 10, 1942, her and T. J. were married at the Broadway Tabernacle Church. Their first child, Thomas Edward Strinko, was born in New York a year later. Upon completion of Tom’s commitment to the Coast Guard in 1945, they returned to Middletown where they continued to grow the family. Tom became a custom home builder starting the T. J. Strinko Construction Company.
Carol Ann Strinko was born in October of 1950, Steven Douglas Strinko in October of 1952, and Gregory Dean Strinko in June of 1954, and it became Earlene’s mission to raise and care for her four children. Her heart was especially connected to her precious Carol Ann who was born with Down syndrome. For 64 years they were all but inseparable as Carol became representative to all that was good about the Strinko family. Carol Ann passed away in May of 2015 of natural causes. But Earlene never let go of the wonderful and caring thoughts that she had for her special Carol Ann. Her husband Tom also preceded her in death, having passed away in March of 2005.
Earlene became a committed sports fan as son Eddie inspired the family with his decision to play football at Lemon Monroe High School in Monroe, Ohio. He went on to play as a walk-on at University of Southern California, beginning a football legacy for the Strinko household as Steve and Greg would follow him gaining notoriety and full athletic scholarships to the University of Michigan. Earlene was emphatic providing the boy’s support relentlessly maintaining their uniforms and driving them back and forth to practice.
When Carol, Steven, and Greg had reached adolescence and Ed had gone off to college, Earlene and her cousin Evelyn Smith opened a Merle Norman shop in downtown Middletown. They ran the business for a couple of years until deciding to sell. That was her only outside the home endeavor, however, she did start an in-home bible study that was attended by several of her friends. Earlene had an open mind regarding the spiritual and much of her studies were geared toward the metaphysical and supernatural with a particular interest in Edgar Cayce. Earlene did consider herself a Christian but not in the traditional fundamental sense.
Earlene is survived by her three son’s Eddie (Vanna), Steve, (Arlene), and Greg (Janice), five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, who desire to express that Earlene’s passion for family and her love for people were exemplary of how she lived her life. She never spoke ill of anyone, her gentle demeanor and elegant grace, combined with her ability to forgive, were traits witnessed and experienced by all who crossed her path. Those who knew her personally can attest to how sweet and loving she was. Earlene made the world around her a better place, touching, and changing those who were blessed to make her acquaintance. We have lost a saint and heaven has gained an angel. If we could somehow find a way to bottle what she had and prescribe it to all, it could change the world. She will be sorely missed. A celebration of her life will be held at a later date in Middletown, Ohio. In lieu of flowers please send all donations to the Special Olympics or the National Down Syndrome Society.