Cover photo for Arthur "Boots" Strawmatt Jr.'s Obituary
1933 Arthur 2020

Arthur "Boots" Strawmatt Jr.

1933 — August 5, 2020

Arthur Charles Strawmatt, Jr. passed away peacefully of old age at Vista Medical Center on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. He was 86. Most people knew Art as Boots. Boots was a longtime member of both the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, and a Lifetime Member of the Zion Benton Moose Lodge 667; serving as Governor in 1964. Boots was always working and worked every day right up till January of 2020. While his life has traveled many paths, Boots will be remembered as the face of United Liquor in Winthrop Harbor where he worked for over 35 years. Rest in Peace, Boots! Art (Boots) Strawmatt was born September 10, 1933 in Lake City, Minnesota to Myrtle and Arthur Strawmatt, Sr. Boots was the 4th child with two older brothers Charles Strawmatt, and Kenneth Strawmatt, a sister Shirley (Wayne) Eastman, and a younger brother Terrance (Jan) Strawmatt. Boots was a nickname given to Art as an infant by his babysitter. He would go by the name ever since. Boots hated school but did enjoy playing on the school football, baseball, wrestling and basketball teams and was a member of the Torch Staff, or school newspaper, reporting on school sports. Go Tigers! He graduated from Lake City High School – Class of 1952. Then two years later Boots was in Germany courtesy of the United States Army until an Honorable Discharge in 1956. Boots came to Illinois to stay with his brother Chuck who found Art a job at Warwick’s Manufacturing in Zion. That job led to another at International Harvester, another at Abbott Labs, then the last two jobs concurrently with the Illinois State Tollway and United Liquor in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois. Boots loved a good party and spent so many hours drinking, smoking and visiting at the Moose Lodge, he was elected Governor. While there he met his wife of 23 years, Rose Joy Aiuppy Anderson and the two were married on July 16, 1965. Rose was the mother of Judith Lois Philyaw, Barbara Joy Opal, Susan Jane Hendricks and in 1965 the mother of a 6-year-old boy named William (Bill) Brian Anderson. Billy was the light of Art’s life until Bill’s death in 2016. Art (Boots) is preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Chuck, Ken, and Terry, his wife Rose, and his step-son Bill Anderson. Boots was stubborn, often ornery. He loved his family, was a generous grandfather and enjoyed writing words of what he called “Wisdom” in every greeting card. Boots loved country music especially Ernest Tubb and was a member of the Circle Club, the Official Fan Club of the Grand Ole Opry, since 1987. As stated, Boots loved his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren and he was never happier than when he could share a family photo Christmas card with the whole town. He loved multiple cups of what he called “A Good Cup of Hot Coffee!” and though Boots stopped drinking and smoking, he kept a plaque on the wall with the well-known verse: “May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead” We believe he made it to Heaven in time. Rest in Peace, Art (Boots). We love you! It was Art’s (Boots’) wish to be cremated. His ashes will be laid to rest at Ascension Cemetery in Libertyville, IL on Friday, August 14, 2020. Art (Boots) will be remembered and be missed by many nieces, nephews, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, friends and many, many more. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Arthur (Boots) C. Strawmatt Jr. was especially proud of this story of his life in honor of his 80th birthday written by Meredith Jumisko, reporter with the Zion-Benton News. We are reprinting the story today to celebrate his life in memory of happy times. Many thanks to Meredith Jumisko for her outstanding work. Born Sept. 10, 1933, local resident Arthur “Boots” Strawmatt is a hard-working man to this day, and he’s not letting his 80th birthday slow him down. A familiar face to many, most know him by his preferred name Boots. Strawmatt was born the fourth child of Arthur and Myrtle Pulk Strawmatt in Lake City, Minn. His sister Shirley Eastman is a year older than him and lives in Reads Landing, Minn., while his three brothers Charley, Kenneth, and Terry have passed away. He graduated from Lincoln High School in Lake City and was drafted into the U.S. Army in May 1954. He received his basic training and schooling at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and then served about two years in Germany in the 768th (Medical Detachment). After Germany, he settled in Zion. Community minded, Strawmatt is a member of Winthrop Harbor American Legion Samuel Schiera Post 1943 and Winthrop Harbor VFW Post 7448. He is a life member of Zion-Benton Moose Lodge 667. He has been a member for 55 years now, and was governor of the lodge in 1964-1965. He has also gone two steps higher at the Moose: he’s a life member of the Legion of the Moose and has earned the Fellowship Degree of Honor. He’s worked many jobs over the years, including as a warehouse manager at Warwick Electronics in Zion. He also worked 11 years at International Harvester, and would later retire from the Illinois Tollway, after working there 20 years. Just where did the nickname Boots come from? The story goes that his mother was ill after he was born, and she then spent nine days in the hospital. A woman taking care of him saw booties hanging nearby, and so she started calling him Boots. It’s stuck with him for 80 years now! On July 16, 1965, Strawmatt married Rose Anderson, a widow with three daughters and a son, Bill. The children would, in turn, produce 10 grandchildren and 20-plus great-grandchildren. Rose, the daughter of Zion feed owner Ross Aiuppy, passed away in 1988. Today, Strawmatt is especially close to Bill and his family. His face lights up when he talks about them, calling them his “pride and joy in life.” He stops at their house every evening to visit. Bill and his wife Jean are the parents of Sarah, a civil engineer; Neal, who is a student at University of Illinois at Chicago studying structural engineering; Lucas, who is studying at College of Lake County for engineering; and Nicholas, who is a junior at Carmel High School. Sarah and her husband Paul have two young daughters, who their great-grandpa loves very much. “Bill and his family are my hobby,” Strawmatt says. Upon further thought, so too is his music collection comprised of 2,000 compact discs of 1940s and 1950s country music. Greats like Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Eddy Arnold, and Gene Autry are in his collection. He has also collected big band music, which was popular when he was young. His favorite though is Tubb’s 1941 hit “Walking the Floor Over You.” He met Tubb three times, and says he was the nicest man you could ever meet. He cites a phrase that Tubb used. It went along the lines of: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” Strawmatt would like to live that way - as a nice guy. To his family, he is that guy. “He’s a really sweet person.” his daughter-in-law Jean says. “He loves his grandchildren. He’s always willing to help out.” “He’s very proud of his family,” she says, noting how he’s always showing off pictures of his grandchildren. So proud, in fact, that twice over the last 10 years he’s contacted this writer with article ideas about his family. One story was when a granddaughter adopted six brothers with her husband. The other time was when Jean graduated with honors from College of Lake County five years ago. Perhaps this is Jean returning the favor for that article, as this story is her birthday present to him. For a man who already has everything he needs, and is always thinking of his family first, it’s now his time to shine. After all, a man only turns 80 once in his lifetime.
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