Henry Christian Strom II, was born Dec. 28, 1965, in Mexico City at the British-American Cowdray Hospital to Henry Christian Strom of Kristiansand, Norway, and Barbara Belle Fry of Delano, Calif. He passed away unexpectedly just days after his 55th birthday on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston from a series of strokes caused by COVID-19.
Although he preferred Hank, he was known as Henry to his mother, Uncky to his loving nieces, Henry Boo-Shoo to his big sister, and Dad to his cherished son. His close group of friends, his companions on many quests, both real and fantastical, had additional but unprintable names for him. Hank was of moderate height, with a deep wide chest and a full head of greying blond hair that, like his mischievous personality, frequently defied obedience and order. He had twinkling blue eyes, framed by full lashes, and his jaw was often shadowed by a few days’ worth of short, scruffy whiskers. His arms were strong and comforting, his hugs deep and his manner kind. Hank did have a temper, when his eyes would flash and his face would flush. But even those moments were guided by the philosophy that you only yell because you care. Sometimes he cared a lot.
Hank spent many of his early years growing up in Alaska, moving to Clarkston as an awkward preteen who had yet to discover that corduroy was not actually fashionable. He graduated from Charles Francis Adams High School in 1984, having commandeered the dark basement of his parents’ home as the headquarters for his own gang of hapless miscreants. Hank liked to sit with one leg tucked under the other, leaning ever so slightly toward the subject of his attention, with his body anchored by his elbow on the table and his hands spread out confidently in front of him. He would sit this way for hours, playing games, having impassioned discussions and telling stories. Occasionally, his arm would lift up, making a forceful chopping motion at the elbow, finger pointed, and he would excitedly exclaim, “ah-ha” followed by a slight chuckle. He was always good-natured, but most especially when he won.
After his high school graduation and a short stint at Washington State University, he packed up his red Karmann Ghia and headed to Seattle. It was there that he met Paula Marie Collard, who he married on April 24, 1994. He and Paula settled in Renton, Wash., where, in 1992, they had a son, Torren Christian Strom. While living in the Seattle area, Hank worked at a recycling firm, Fibers, and aerospace company, Rockwell Collins. During that time he also earned his associate’s degree from Renton Technical College. When he moved back to the Lewis-Clark Valley, he started working for Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories as an electronics technician. He loved the job, particularly because when he first started, the company had put his name on the door. It’s the little things.
He loved sweets, especially gummy bears, and gadgets of all types, fodder for his curious and inquisitive mind. He couldn’t stand the smell of Seagram’s Seven Crown after a night of legendary drinking in his youth. He had small, nearly unnoticeable scars, tokens from his many adventures biking, hiking, mountain climbing and generally acting with reckless abandon, a trait that was diminished little by age and experience. Hank loved to explore, tinker and learn. He was a storyteller and published author, creating entirely new worlds to serve as a vehicle for his own deep desire to venture into the unknown. He was exceptionally intelligent, generous and thoughtful. He kept a large glass jar of loose change that he would occasionally dump out to use as “mad money” to be spent on anything he and his son might like to do. He was once astonished to find that the jar contained nearly $72 in change. Still, he resisted the urge to do anything responsible with the money. He was a wonderful father.
Hank was always ready to try something new, especially if it might be slightly dangerous and most definitely if it might be a bad idea. He built catapults and rockets in the backyard with his son, strapped his nieces into climbing harnesses and hoisted them up into old walnut trees and created an entire miniature landscape full of castles, dragons and other mythical creatures in the attic of his house. He cuddled his beloved rescue dogs, Zeus and Bruno, near the fire in the basement as he plotted future exploits, which often included riding his motorcycle or going shooting. Just a month before his passing, he purchased the Jeep he had always wanted and was planning new expeditions and exploits. We wish he wouldn’t have waited so long or that he would have stayed with us longer to enjoy it.
His family and friends relied on his strength, valued his ready and listening ear and counted on him to spark interesting conversations. He has now left us and has forgotten to leave directions as to what to do next or where to send his mail. We are devastated.
Hank was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his son, Torren Strom; sister, Karen Strom; great-aunt, Janet Cochran; ex-wife, Paula Collard; three nieces, Chris (Scott) Kemp, Kali (Todd) Butler and Katie Cahill; five great-nieces, Kylie Kemp, Shelby Kemp, Makayla Cridlebaugh, Kadance Butler and Laelee Butler; and his many close friends, who know who they are.
A private memorial service will be conducted at a later date. At the request of the family, in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Lewis-Clark Animal Shelter. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Mountain View Funeral Home in Lewiston, Idaho.