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Glenn Edward "Buzz" Stronks
July 01, 1940 - December 26, 2017




Full Name: Glenn Edward "Buzz" Stronks
Date of Birth: July 01, 1940
Date of Death: December 26, 2017
Country of Birth: United States
Place of Birth: Santa Monica
Place of Death: Los Angeles
Biography:

Memorial service to celebrate the life of Glenn "Buzz" Stronks will be held on Saturday, January 6th, 2018 at 1:00PM at St. Anthony's Catholic Church.  A reception will be held immediately after the service in the parish hall during which family and friends will have the opportunity to share their favorite memories and stories about Buzz.

St. Anthony's Catholic Church - 720 E Grand Ave, El Segundo, CA 90245

 

Glenn Edward “Buzz” Stronks was born July 1, 1940 and was the eldest son of Robert Gerald Stronks (Squirrel, Idaho) and Martha Cecilia Gellinck (Ironwood, MI).  Glenn was born in Santa Monica, CA and raised in Culver City, CA with his two younger brothers, William Camile (1944) and Robert George (1946), and younger sister, Julie Marie (Scachetti) (1954).  Over the last few years Glenn had been valiantly fighting multiple health issues, and was taken from us unexpectedly in the early morning hours of December 26, 2017.  In keeping with his character, he managed his illnesses, pain and discomfort with dignity and rarely complained.

Glenn was always industrious and a hard worker.  When he was a child he cut neighbors’ lawns to earn spending money and he worked for the Post Office as a young adult.  He was forced to grow up early when his father was killed unpredictably in a train accident in 1958 when he was 17, at which time Glenn became the man of the house. His mother relied on him greatly after his father’s death, and throughout his life Glenn was a consistent mentor and advisor for his three siblings, as well as neighbors and friends.

He always said he was lucky that he knew from a young age that he wanted to be an engineer.  His responsibilities at home did not stop him from excelling at Loyola High School (1958 graduate) and then pursuing an engineering degree at Loyola University (1963 graduate).  He studied endlessly, long into the night at a small drawing board in the tool shed on the back of the garage of the Culver City house his parents built, and in which he grew up.  He rigged up a line attached to a cowbell (which is on the table with all the photos and mementos in the parish hall on the table) that his mother or siblings could tug on when they needed him to break away from his studies.  Glenn, who was a good baseball player, played for Loyola High School and also volunteered as an umpire while his younger brother Bob played after their father died.  He also served as the yearbook editor while attending both high school and Loyola University.

Glenn met his future wife, Frances Marie (Kirsch), in October 1957 at a Loyola High School football game.  He proposed to Frances at Disneyland on a trip with their younger sisters, Julie Scachetti & Teri Kirsch.  Glenn and Frances were married in June 1962 at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Los Angeles.  In 1963, Glenn moved down the hill from Loyola University to start his engineering career in the hangars at the original Hughes Aircraft facility during the time “Uncle Howie” still wandered the halls.  Glenn and Frances had their first child, Karen Marie (Eric) in 1963.  Over the next several years, they bought the first of their two homes in Westchester, CA, and were blessed with three sons in quick succession; Robert Gerald in 1966, John Michael (Cammy) in 1967, and Timothy Joseph “Joe” (Nancy) in 1968.

Glenn spent his entire career at Hughes Aircraft Company (later General Motors and Boeing) and retired in 2000.  He wasn’t really ready to retire and wondered what he would do with himself, but his inquisitive and intelligent nature quickly found new things for him to learn and he was able to fully occupy his time during his retirement years. 

Glenn was actively involved in the raising of his children and supported them in any endeavor they decided to engage in:  Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, baseball, cheerleading, Special Olympics, altar boys, and soccer. As Glenn and Frances set about nurturing their young family, they also started their life-long penchant for volunteering and helping others in need.  During their 55-year marriage, Buzz and Fran opened their home to young children, friends, and relatives and offered their talents, resources, time, and financial support to numerous community-based organizations.  Some of the ways they shared themselves for the betterment of others include:

  • Living room served as a local polling place for elections
  • Collecting, wrapping and delivering food and presents for families in need at Christmas
  • Los Angeles County Emergency Shelter Care Foster Parent
  • Cubmaster for Pack 961
  • Boy Scout Troop 961 Committee Chair
  • Special Olympics Ceremonies at LMU
  • AYSO Region 7 Referee Coordinator
  • AYSO Region 7 Regional Commissioner
  • AYSO Area 1D Director
  • Westchester Playa Del Rey Youth Foundation Board Member & Secretary
  • Nielsen Youth Park Grant Author and Implementation Project Manager
  • Chief Assistant to AYSO Area 1D Director for the many years Frances has served in that capacity.  (He could develop playoff schedules in his sleep and was working one the night he died!)

Tens of thousands of families and players benefited from the time and energy Buzz devoted to Nielson Park and the AYSO Area 1D programs.

Glenn had no time for worrying about appearances or keeping up with the Jones’.  He never cared about how he looked, what he wore, or the car he drove.  This personality trait is how he got his nickname – he had a full head of wavy hair that would often get wild and unruly until he was nagged sufficiently enough to get it cut.  Since he hated to be bothered with this waste of time, he would get his hair completely buzzed to avoid having to go back again anytime soon. Thus, the nickname “Buzz” – it stuck.  Another example of how Buzz could have cared less about how he looked is when Buzz dried his white hair with new green towels that had not yet been washed.  His white hair turned green and stayed that way for a couple weeks…and it didn’t concern him at all. Buzz would regularly flatulate at the table regardless of who was present, blaming it on the “Rocky Mountain Tree Toads”.

Buzz only enjoyed socializing in small gatherings with those he was closest to – he and Frances would have regular taco nights with family and friends, and because he and Frances were both the eldest of their large families, they often hosted sizeable family gatherings.  He liked children, more than adults, and would often avoid the socializing with the adults by spending his time with the children.  He was known in the family to be the one that would take his children, along with the multitude of young cousins, friends’ children, and neighborhood kids, off on walks to the corner store for a candy or ice cream.  In most cases where family gatherings were held at one of his sibling’s homes, he was known to go to the party, walk in the front door, say hello to everyone, and walk out the back door…without stopping … and go home.  He and Frances got into the practice of driving separate cars to such gatherings. 

Buzz always chose utility or function over form.  He drove very few cars in his life and kept each as long as he could – the old orange Datsun B210 (aka “the ashtray”), the ugly baby-poop brown Chevy, and his most recent Chevy truck that is older than some of his grandchildren. 

Throughout his life Buzz was faced with significant challenges, starting with the death of his father at age 17, and then when his son Robert (Bob) was hit by a car in 1969 and defied all odds to survive, though his initial recovery required months in the hospital and several other extended visits over the years.  Buzz would visit Bob on his way to work in the morning, on the way home from work, and later with Frances in the evening.  He did all this while working full time and raising three other young children.  Eventually when Bob was able to come home, the family adjusted to a new way of life with a disabled child, who grew into an accomplished adult in his own way.  Buzz and Frances were devoted to making sure Bob had as typical a life as possible, that he had independence and a job, and was encouraged to do as much as he was able.   Buzz never stopped making Bob’s future his priority, and his and Francis’ experience with Bob made the development and expansion of the AYSO VIP program one of their most special projects.

Buzz also battled Agoraphobia and overcame drinking and smoking addictions. He was thrilled to be able to celebrate 25 years of sobriety. He was also very proud of, after he had determined he needed to lose weight, the plan he developed: he took up swimming, tracked his eating and activity, and lost 100 pounds over a single year. 

As he got older he very much enjoyed spending time with his siblings.  He did not like to travel, but thoroughly enjoyed the trip he took with them to Alaska in 2005 that included a land tour, train ride, and cruise.  The most recent trip they took together was to Catalina.  They would have somewhat regular dinners together when his brother Bill was in town, and most recently, as his health began to fail, he loved it so much when his siblings came and had dinner with him at home.

Buzz had a great appreciation for music, art, and creativity.  His children grew up listening to classical music and he also enjoyed jazz from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.  He loved visiting the Getty Museum, and one of his favorite things to do in his later years was to go to the Cirque du Soleil.  He would brave the crowds to enjoy the creativity, music, and talents exhibited in those shows.  He attended several through the years and enjoyed sharing the experience with his grandchildren.  He bought tickets and planned to go with his brother Bob and some of the grandkids recently at Dodger Stadium.  It was not until a couple nights before we lost him that he acknowledged he was not feeling well enough to go. 

Another creative outlet for Glenn was photography.  It was something he enjoyed and practiced most of his life. In the early years, his trusty shed at one point served as his personal dark room when he was the yearbook editor.  He was frequently there to take pictures of his children and grandchildren during sports and (some) family gatherings.  He enjoyed hiding in the background, and would take wonderful candid shots of people enjoying events and playing in games. Glenn was also a letter writer – he took up the practice of exchanging letters with his son and one of his grandsons when they both were away at college across the country.  He must have really enjoyed these exchanges as we found copies of both his and the responses he received among his papers.

Buzz had some things about him that seemed childlike – his curiosity about everything, his love of ice cream and black licorice, and his childish laugh.  He had a wonderful vocabulary and used words that you don’t hear very often – supper, discombobulated, druthers, etc.  He was a voracious reader – he would consume multiple books a week and was always looking for more.  He shared that love of reading with his family.    His sister Julie recently recalled that when she was a young girl, Buzz gave her two books (which she still has). One was Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, the other King Arthur. Even in 1962, Buzz was encouraging reading for kids by exposing his sister to books with both male and female main characters.  Buzz’s favorite books to read where mysteries.  When he wasn’t reading mysteries or crime novels, he was often watching PBS Mystery or Masterpiece dramas. Sometimes, when his kids were young, on Saturdays after all the chores were done, he would take them to the second-hand bookstore to search for their own books. Other Saturdays, he would take them to the tiny Mexican restaurant in Culver City to get the freshly made tortillas for taco night.  The reward for being good and waiting patiently in the car was a warm tortilla out of the package on the ride home. And oftentimes they would stop behind the chapel at Loyola to look over the city and watch all the jack rabbits running on the hills.

Buzz loved spending time with his children and grandchildren, and they felt the same.  He had all the time in the world for them.  His grandchildren especially believed that he had special powers, that he could fix anything – and he could for the most part.  The grandchildren would regularly approach him with a non-functioning toy saying “Papa fix it!”, and he would.  Buzz was proud of the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren and many of them have followed the examples he set in his life.  His children have multiple college and advanced degrees; one of his sons and a grandson followed his chosen profession and are on the path to becoming engineers; his daughter and one of his granddaughters are Loyola Marymount University graduates; and several of his children and grandchildren have been and are currently active volunteers for community organizations that benefit others.  Those in the family see some behaviors and characteristics in his children and grandchildren that remind them of Buzz, and for that we are truly grateful.  Hopefully that will help us not miss him quite as much.

Buzz never really cared much about having many friends and people around him.  He did have a few close friends besides his family – Mike Briley and Tom Abrahamson.  He didn’t need many other friends as he was lucky enough to have found his best friend for life, his wife, Frances.  They were different people, both highly intelligent, with strong and independent personalities, and each respected the other immensely.  They did not try to change the other and did not try to force the other to be someone they were not. They encouraged each other and wanted the other to succeed and grow (or to just be left alone in Buzz’s case).  The respect and love they had for each other made their marriage and life together so successful.  They were the best possible role models for others and made marriage seem so easy and natural.  Of course, it was not always easy, but they made it seem so. 

No remembrance of Buzz is complete without mention of the few things that Buzz truly disliked – little girls giggling at the table, facial hair, poorly written assembly instructions, assumptions, large crowds, getting dressed up, poorly designed products, lack of respect for others, and prejudice.   He also disliked chicken until late in his life.  Buzz rarely ate chicken and he always said it was because of what he had to do to chickens when he was young when the family raised them in their backyard. He thoroughly detested his eternal arch nemeses:  the broken bicycle and dysfunctional lawnmower!  It was while working in the appliance graveyard, striving to fix yet another broken bicycle or non-functioning lawnmower that Buzz was the most creative in his use of “colorful words”, and it truly demonstrated his unique and wonderful vocabulary.

Buzz was calm, reliable, and consistent – he was always the same. While he lived a simple and frugal lifestyle, he was always very generous with his time, talents, and funds when he saw a need. You knew what to expect with him, and what his expectations for you were.  He had high standards, other than his attire and appearance, of course, and expected that you make a full effort in whatever you were doing.  He did not waiver or waffle, even in the face of the most difficult situations and life challenges.  He was completely non-judgmental.  He did not jump to conclusions.  He listened and considered carefully before acting and speaking. He was a man of few words, and when he said something, you stopped and listened…it was well worth it. He was so wise and such a wonderful resource for so many.  Buzz was a quiet and simple man, and he was also a highly intelligent and complex individual who touched and blessed many lives throughout his 77 years.  His final act, in keeping with the way he lived his life, was for the benefit of others.  Buzz donated his body to the UCLA medical program.

Buzz’s children are aware that some find the lack of demonstration of affection in their family uncomfortable and cold.  However, it does not feel that way to them.  They always knew they were loved – all their parent’s actions, words of encouragement, and deeds demonstrated that.  The love and affection Buzz and Fran had for each other and for their children was understood – it was a given.

We all are blessed to have had Buzz be a part of our lives and will miss him greatly.

Glenn Edward Stronks is survived by his:

  • wife of 55 years, Frances (Kirsch)
  • four children – Karen, Bob, John and Joe
  • grandchildren – Catherine, Nick, Mackenzie (Karen), Austin (John), Ryan and Christopher (Joe)
  • siblings – Bill (Virginia), Bob (Mary Jeanne), Julie (Gilbert Scachetti)
  • other relatives – Terry & Joanne (Kirsch) Gardner, Kathy (Kirsch) Galceran Dixon, Teri Kirsch, James Kirsch, and more than 50 nieces and nephews and their children  
  • Innumerable families whose children have played soccer in the southland over the last 40 years.  Those families had no idea how much time and love Buzz put into making their soccer experience, enjoyable, fulfilling. and safe.         -
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