Corinne R. Strobel | Morris Nilsen Funeral Chapel

October 20, 1937 - May 7, 2019

Corinne R. Strobel age 81 of Edina. Survived by husband, J. Walter; children, Rosemary and Walter (Jenn); granddaughter, Bella; siblings, Linda, Brent (Anne), Terry (Rod) and other relatives and friends. Preceded in death by parents, Howard and Shirley Hoffman.

Mom lived her life with entirely too much color to cast it in a few lines of black & white type.

She was the first child of a very young mother and born right near the end of the Depression. Her dad had beat consumption and was working at a wine plant in Seattle, her mom worked at a dime-store and other retail jobs like it. Mom lived with her grandma out in the country, on a farm place with chickens and a well and fruit trees. Everyone knew her grandma as "the Christian lady" and mom remembered she welcomed hungry drifters or railroad hoboes to share beans and cornbread or a sandwich outside on the porch. It was a lesson in kindness to your neighbor that mom never lost.

When mom was five, she moved to an apartment with her parents in the city of Seattle. The second world war began just before Christmastime. All sorts of things were scarce. They had black-out curtains in all the windows. Mom got a tricycle with rubber tires for Christmas. They were able to get a banana or two, and someone "found" a coffee-cup sized piece of baking chocolate and made her a hot chocolate. There was always enough for existing, but these extras were a big deal for a little kid.

After the War ended, mom told me how everyone celebrated. She'd just come home from summer camp. As their boat docked, she told me it was like every sane adult had gone crazy - they were running in the street and kissing each other and dancing like maniacs. Everyone had enough austerity; it was time to move to a real house. They moved to a place called Lake City and everything was brand new and modern. Her mother said those tiny tract houses were designed by an architect whose brother was a divorce attorney. Mom spent a whole summer recovering from a milder case of polio that knocked her flat, then seemed to go away again. She wanted to be a nurse, but high school chemistry put an end to that.

Still, she always cared for someone.

She took care of her ailing grandmother, then watched her fragile little brother as she completed Kings Gardens, a private high school and church-run mission. To pay for school, she was an aide at the nursing home on campus.

After high school, mom met dad on a blind date her friend made her go on, because that guy had a car and her date did not. Mom gave him a fake phone number, and after several tries, he dialed the right combination and she gave up and went out with him again. They were married in August of 1962 in Idaho. For several years they followed dad's job with Boeing, ended up in Rapid City where dad got a degree at the Mines and they lived in a house trailer at a ranch.

In 1967 they moved to Columbus, Nebraska. Rented a place in town and had a first baby. Between 1970 and 1972 she moved three times and had second baby, a boy. In 1974 they moved to Minneapolis where she laid down the law about dad's job-hopping. No more moves until the kids graduate. Oh, and she gave the kids a pet cat just to make sure. We stayed for 12 years then moved to a huge house on a park-sized lot in Edina. We needed a second bathroom because dad's mother was living with us, the Edina house had three!

Mom took care of dad's mother at our house for about 18 months. A couple of local nurses began an Adult Day Program in the St. Peter's building, and mom took a job with them as an aide so she could care for dad's mother and make a little gas money. The job lasted over 14 years.

Since nothing in her life was ever traditional, we kids got to spend Christmas Eve at other peoples' homes and shoot off rockets, eat smorgasbord style, and return home rather green. The presents were always waiting in a huge UPS box under the tree in the morning. When we moved to Minneapolis, she had me call up St. Nick at his summer place in St. Paul, so he could find the right house.

Thanksgivings were anything goes. One year ducks swimming in their fat inside a turkey bag, one year a ham, one year a vegetarian hot dish, and the year our cat "vaccinated" the frozen bird as it thawed in the sink we had a nice spaghetti and meat balls.

For Confirmation, mom decided to make our class cupcakes with a Lutheran rose crest on the tops. There were 12 of us. She painted each crest on with a toothpick. It took all night. That Sunday, as she delivered them, the pastor reached out a hand to take one, and she smacked it. "I only had enough for a dozen of these," she said.

Because her family lived in Seattle and Dad's parents lived in New Jersey, we had a lot of really strange summer vacations where we'd board the city bus at 50th, ride to the Great Northern Depot at the foot of Hennepin Avenue and wait for the East bound Empire Builder to Chicago and then New York. Two weeks later, dad would ride back to St. Paul with us and Mom and us kids would take the West bound (Hiawatha) to Seattle. This one took us on a ride through the Rockies and across Montana and Idaho. We usually lived on those wonderful dining car pancakes. The whole rest of the trip was in the dome lounge, with, maybe a run to the snack bar for a milk carton and one of those weird industrial sandwiches sealed in an armor-plate strength mylar bag.

We had more than our share of fun over a lifetime with her. Mom was a feisty, spirited, caring person who loved her granddaughter and couldn't wait to see her when school was out again. Mom was up for anything as long as it didn't involve a snake, a roach, or the word "congealed". She made friends of all ages, from the very old timers (WWI era adults) to other young moms with kids about my brother's age. They were farmers, factory workers, nurses, store clerks, teachers and a host of other characters who, often as not, happened into her life on an ordinary day over a single, friendly cup of coffee.

When mom got sick, there was a lot of sympathy, but not much actual help with her care-giving. Maybe people don't feel comfortable around a person they "used to know" who is beginning to lose her motor-skills, voice, words, and quickness of response. I don't blame you all, it's scary to see. To all those of you who did offer a kind word, a half hour respite so I could buy groceries, a suggestion about finding professional care and maybe affording it, I thank you.

Memorials may be direct to St. Peter's Lutheran Church.


  1. Diane Chamberlain says:

    Beautifully written – I’m so sorry for your loss.

  2. Patti Schwanz says:

    Rosemary, I am so sorry for your loss. I remember so fondly time that I spent at your house as a kid – bouncing on those big rubber balls in the basement, going to Pershing park one day we found some pictures on the ground we thought were cute, and we brought them to your house and your mom let us mod-podge them onto some big wood chips we took from the park. I showed up randomly with my brother, and your parents gave use all ice cream floats in your backyard. You had the best birthday parties when we were little (I still remember a little metal horse party favor that I loved). Then our birthday parties together at the Roller Garden when we were older. Your mom was always so kind and welcoming to me. I was so shy and hardly talked to her. I’m sure I was the most boring guest, but I will always remember how nice she was and how fun it was for me to go over to your house. Patti (Barthel) Schwanz

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