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On May 15, 1943, in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, our beloved husband and father, Dallas Stratman was born. On August 16, 2023, in Caledonia, Michigan, he died at home surrounded by his family as they sang his favorite hymn, “Because He Lives.” He was 80 years old. In the Hebrew calendar, he was born on Iyar 10, 5703 and died on Av 29, 5783.
His parents were Dallas George Stratman and Ella Viola Stratman. His father was part-owner and operator of the DH&S lead mine. He grew up in Dodgeville. He came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ as a very young man while his family attended the Methodist Church in Dodgeville.
As a young man, Dallas earned money by mowing grass and painting barns. He also worked at a gas station in Dodgeville, where Roy Rogers stopped to fill up once while he was working.
In high school, he enjoyed playing basketball, and he was the free throw champion of his team. His favorite coach, Weenie Wilson, helped Dallas get a job as a camp counselor for Camp Mohawk in Rhinelander, WI, where he led canoe trips on the Wisconsin River. He nearly died on one of those canoe trips when he developed appendicitis, but he was able to get timely medical care which saved him.
In 1961, Dallas graduated from high school. After graduating, he went to college at the University of Wisconsin, where he studied electrical engineering.
Dallas had three part time jobs while he was in college. He was in the Marine Corps Reserve, he worked part time at Carnes, which was an electronic assembly plant, and he worked at his cousin Vern’s gas station in Madison.
In the spring of 1966, Dallas called a nursing student he knew from Dodgeville to ask her out. She passed, but asked her roommate if she would go out with him. Her roommate asked if he was tall, and she said “yeah, he’s pretty tall.” So her roommate agreed to go out with Dallas. Her roommate’s name was Joyce.
On October 26, 1966, Dallas’s father, Dallas George Stratman, passed away. Joyce was able to meet him once before he passed away.
In the spring of 1967, Dallas proposed to Joyce at Lombardino’s Pizza in Madison. She must have thought he was tall enough, because they were married on September 2,1967. Dallas was 24 and Joyce was 22. Joyce often says Dallas married her for her parking spot, since the nurse’s parking lot was much closer to the engineering campus than the engineering parking. After they were married, Joyce financed his last year of college by working as a RN so Dallas could focus on finishing his degree.
In 1968, Dallas graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE). In September of 1968, he and Joyce moved to Massachusetts so he could work for Raytheon Wayland Lab. Shortly after arriving in Massachusetts, he received a letter from the University of Wisconsin informing him that a mistake had been made, and he didn’t actually have enough credits to graduate. Because of this, Dallas had to complete the remaining credits by way of correspondence courses.
Dallas and Joyce had their first son, Jon, in 1969 and their second son, Derek, in 1971.
On Feb 12, 1971, Dallas was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve with the rank of Corporal.
Dallas and Joyce wanted to be closer to their families in Wisconsin, so Dallas took a job with Lear Siegler in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He started on May 15, 1972, which was his 29th birthday. For the next 35 years, he worked for Lear Siegler, which later became Smith’s Aerospace and then GE Aviation. He served in many capacities developing weapons delivery and navigation systems for military and civilian aircraft. In the course of his work, he traveled to Germany, Korea, and New Zealand. He also worked on P3 Orions for the Portugese Air Force. He had a particular fondness for the F4 Phantom fighter jet, since he did a lot of work on that aircraft.
On Nov 25, 1973, Dallas and his family moved to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, so he could work on the ARN-101 program for F4 Phantoms at Eglin Air Force Base. Dallas loved helping his sons build plastic and balsa wood models and pinewood derby cars for cub scouts, taking them to air shows, taking them fishing, taking them to play Goofy Golf, visiting Ft. Pickens, the Gulfarium, and going to the beach. His sons remember being carried to safety in the arms of their father when Hurricane Eloise struck Ft. Walton Beach in 1975. Dallas and his family loved their time in Florida, so much so that Dallas considered switching jobs so he could take a permanent position there. He decided against it, and on Nov 6, 1978, he and his family moved back to Grand Rapids, MI.
In 1979 and 1980, Dallas found a nice property on the Thornapple River for sale, and purchased it. In the evenings after work, he studied for and obtained a builder’s license and started a business called “Stratman Builders.” In evenings after work, with a little manual labor help from his sometimes less than enthusiastic family, he designed and built a beautiful and well-crafted home on the property, where his kids loved canoeing and swimming in the river and fishing with their Dad.
For quite a while, Dallas was heavily addicted to cigarettes. To help motivate him to quit, Joyce made a bet with him. If he quit, he could buy a calculator. Yes, a calculator. He was using a slide rule at the time, and calculators were very new technology that cost between $400 and $600. If he lost, he would have to buy her a new piano. He lost the bet and bought her a piano, which she still plays to this day. His kids also joined in the effort to stop him from smoking by hiding his cigarettes. Their well-meaning efforts were not appreciated. In May of 1983, God miraculously delivered him from his addiction to cigarettes. He was on the way back from a business meeting in Florida, when he gave his addiction to the Lord in prayer and was instantly and permanently cured. The power of this miracle made quite an impression on him, and he would often tell others about it.
Dallas loved basketball, and coached a kids’ team during this time. Our loving and kind Dad made sure that every single kid on his team got to play in every game, whether or not they made a single basket.
Dallas loved driving and taking his family on road trips. He would drive for miles and miles, while we all devoured peanut M&M’s by the pound. Back then all of our metabolisms must have run so fast that we consumed thousands of calories just sitting still.
Over the summer of 1986, Dallas took his family on a spectacular road trip across the western part of the United States, where they saw the Badlands, Mt Rushmore, Little Big Horn, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Salt Lake City, the Grand Canyon, Four Corners, the Royal Gorge, Pikes Peak, the Air Force Academy, and many other sights. They also took a whitewater rafting trip on the Snake River.
In 1991 Dallas and Joyce went through a very difficult period when Joyce was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is the first time his kids saw him break down and weep uncontrollably. We are very thankful to God that he delivered her from this disease. It was because of this period that “Because He Lives” became Dallas’s favorite hymn. Dallas wrote:
“Because He Lives” became important to me in 1991 when Joyce was diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently whenever I am confronted with difficult situations this song comes to mind. We all experience problems and ‘Because He Lives we can face tomorrow” with confidence that eventually we will overcome them thru Jesus.
From June 14-26, 1997, Dallas and Joyce took Noseworthy Travel’s Best of Israel tour, guided by Mike and Mary Ann Oatis. They had a great time in Israel, where they toured the Holy Land and were baptized in the Jordan River. Dallas was 54 years old and Joyce was 52.
On December 26, 1999, Dallas’s mother, Ella Viola Stratman, passed away. This is the second time his kids saw him break down and weep uncontrollably.
On August 31, 2007, Dallas retired from GE Aviation, and began to work in earnest on publishing a book he had been working on for the past 20 years or so.
His books were inspired by Prof. Wagner’s Cornerstone Seminary Thursday Night Bible Class, which discussed the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation. He started a publishing company called All For Jesus Books (AFJ Books, LLC), and self-published many books, including “Self’s Destiny and Self” and “In the Image of YHWH,” both of which are available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. He learned how to create a website himself, and created a website for the company (www.afjbooks.com). He also did a series of lectures on this subject, which he put on his YouTube channel, which is called “Time Dependent Revelation.” He loved researching and writing about the Bible, especially the Book of Revelation. He loved the King James Bible, which he believed to be the best translation. The home office where he researched and wrote was his favorite place in the world, and was where he wanted to be when he knew his journey was coming to an end.
In addition to working on his book, Dallas and Joyce often traveled to see their son’s families as they were stationed in various places with the military, including Germany, Virginia, Colorado, and Alaska. Dallas loved babysitting his grandchildren, spending Christmas in Germany, hiking, seeing the mountains, and driving remote roads in his son’s FJ Cruiser in Colorado. He had a great time catching salmon at the confluence of the Delta Clearwater and Tanana Rivers in Alaska, and he enjoyed the unique privilege of seeing spectacular northern lights in Fairbanks, Alaska near Murphy Dome.
He enjoyed various projects around his home. He built a very clever arrangement to hang birdfeeders off the deck, and he constructed lots of small interesting projects to make things more efficient around the home. His latest invention was a wooden rack that fit on the back of his lawn tractor to carry an extra can of gasoline, which he painted John Deere yellow to match the tractor.
Many people are jacks of all trades, but masters of none. Dallas was very different. He was a master of every trade he put his mind to. From technical things like electrical engineering and publishing books to more physical things like building a house and woodworking, the quality and craftsmanship of everything he built continues to amaze us. If Dallas built it, it will last.
His favorite foods were peanut butter sandwiches, pasties, and strawberry rhubarb pie.
One of Dallas’s more memorable and endearing quirks was his peculiar way of wearing stocking hats. He would put it on just enough to stay on his head, so the rest of the hat would stand tall above his head, almost like a top hat. This habit inspired Jon to sometimes wear his hats this way when he wants to make Rachel laugh.
Dallas was very observant of the weather. We often joked that he missed his calling, he should have been a meteorologist. We will greatly miss consulting with our personal weatherman.
Dallas rarely dreamt. He had one dream in particular that he recalled vividly. In the dream, nothing was visible. There was only a sound, similar to a bowling ball rolling down the alley over and over again.
In spite of his great talent and achievements, Dallas was a very humble man with simple tastes. He was kind to everyone, and treated everyone with great respect. Dallas was very difficult to offend, and very quick to forgive. He always looked for the best in others. He didn’t care at all about clothing or expensive cars. Joyce had to work hard to convince him to even buy a new pair of shoes, and he always insisted on buying used cars. His latest car was a Ford Fusion with a wreck salvage title.
Dallas was a quiet man unless the Bible (the Book of Revelation in particular) was being discussed, in which case he became very animated.
Dallas and Joyce did daily devotions every morning, reading scripture and praying. As Dallas’s lung problems increased, they caused coughing which made it difficult for him, but Joyce read to him and prayed for him when he could not.
Above all else, Dallas was a God-fearing Christian man, whose character beautifully reflected the character and attributes of God. His selfless, sacrificial love for his family reminds us of the selfless, sacrificial love of God for us. He constantly poured himself out for all of us, and loved us more than anything else on earth. He epitomized the fruit of the Spirit. He was a loving, kind, patient, and compassionate man. Dallas, our earthly father, was a beautiful picture of our Heavenly Father. For Dad, everything was about Jesus.
At the hospital, after learning that his condition could very well be terminal, Dallas struggled mightily and overcame his difficulty breathing to recite Psalm 23 to us from memory. This was the same passage his mother recited to him before she died 24 years ago.
The one thing Dallas wanted to tell his grandchildren is that they should work at whatever they do with their whole hearts, as if they were working for God, and not for men: “[W]hatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” Col 3:23-24.
Our pain and grief in losing Dallas cannot be adequately expressed with words. Words are not good enough. We miss him beyond belief, and cannot believe he is gone. We can’t understand why God would choose to take him home at this time. What we do understand is that God is good, and that He is sovereign. That’s all we know, and that’s all we need to know. Our consolation is his saving faith in Jesus Christ, and our assurance that we will be with him again someday in a better place, where there are no more tears, no more sorrow, and where we will never have to say goodbye again:
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Rev 21:4.