It’s not about death. It’s about life. This isn’t a story about a pandemic. It’s a story about Randy Strobel.
It’s about the life Randy Strobel lived, the people he touched, and the impact he had on our locale.
On Wednesday, April 8, Strobel, a 69-year-old resident of Jonestown, passed away at WellSpan-Lebanon’s Good Samaritan Hospital. At the time of his passing, Strobel was surrounded by caring nurses from the hospital’s intensive care unit.
He is believed to be the first person from Lebanon County to die of the coronavirus.
“Randy was very patriotic,” said Carla Strobel, Randy’s widow and wife of 45 years. “The NRA was a big part of his life. He didn’t realize he had the Cornoavirus when we took him to the hospital. I told him, ‘You have to go in and get tested.’ That was the last time I saw him. My daughter FaceTimed me when he passed.
“Randy was spiritual,” continued Strobel. “The nurses prayed with him when they put him on the [ventilator]. They were so kind and caring. I can’t say enough about the nurses in intensive care.”
Randy was a family person, Carla said. He loved his grandchildren.
Outgoing, compassionate and a great listener, Randy Strobel was a people person. He was a hard worker, and a man of simple and devoted values.
Randy Strobel was a unique individual, but he wasn’t all that different than you and me.
“My grandson always said pappy was the nicest person he ever knew,” said Strobel. “That’s what everybody said. That was Randy, always thinking of others. If we’d go to the [American] Legion, he’d walk away and be gone for 15 minutes, just talking to people, some he knew and some he didn’t. He could sense if people needed a time to talk.
“He had a great sense of humor,” added Strobel. “I loved his smile.”
Carla and Randy met in the mid-1970s at the Dixie Drive-In in Avon, when they were both in their early 20s. A relationship, a friendship and then a courtship formed, one that produced two children, seven grandchildren and a lifetime of memories.
“We always loved each other,” said Strobel. “When we got married, we got married forever. We never thought of divorce. We worked through the problems that came up. We took pride in our children and we supported them. Our children were everything to us. We enjoyed working in the yard. But above all, we loved each other and supported each other every way we could. We usually had dinner together.”
Randy was fun. Everybody loved Randy, Carla said. He was a good person.
“He was popular. He worked at the sewing machine factory in Myerstown when we met. He was also a fireman. Eventually he became a member of the special (fire) police in South Lebanon,” Carla said. “He was always active with the firemen. It was his way to give back to the community. If the firemen went, he went. He was totally into it.”
Up until the time of his passing, Randy Strobel, a graduate of ELCO High School, was employed at Hollywood Casino in Grantville as an HVAC technician. On March 27, Governor Tom Wolf issued a stay-at-home directive due to safety concerns related to COVID-19.
“I don’t really know where he got it,” said Strobel of the Coronavirus. “He could’ve gotten it at the grocery store or at the home improvement store. We’d always wear masks when we went out. But who knows. If I had to guess, he got it at the casino, but I really don’t know. I know he liked working there, and they’ve been so kind.”
Carla said Randy became ill about two weeks before he passed.
“We he started getting sick, he had a little fever at night and he couldn’t sleep. He’d take aspirin. He stopped eating very much. He was drinking a lot of water. He just got weaker,” she said. “On a Wednesday, I told him, ‘I’m going to take you [to the hospital],’ because he was getting weaker, and he agreed. He was in the hospital for about 11 days. He struggled. He didn’t like being on the vent.”
Strobel’s condition worsened. But during that time, Carla couldn’t be with him because of the state’s shelter-in-place order.
“Yes, that was the worst part of it,” said Carla. “I just wanted to be able to hold his hand. I couldn’t because I was in isolation. I’ve sobbed and cried for the last two weeks. I feel like my life has ended. I know my life is never going to be the same again. I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life. I loved him. He was just such a special, special person. I’m going to miss Randy every day for the rest of my life.”
Carla and Randy had planned on retiring at the beginning of the year, but for some reason, Randy decided to put it off.
“He was going to retire in July, and if he had retired in January, he’d still be here,” she said. “We had things we wanted to see and things we wanted to do.”
“If it weren’t for the coronavirus, he’d be here right now,” continued Strobel. “He had no health problems. But his immune system was depleted. Maybe that’s why he didn’t respond as well as he could have.”
An abbreviated funeral for Randy Strobel will be conducted on Friday, April 24 at Porterfield-Schied in Lebanon. The family is planning a more comprehensive celebration of Randy’s life sometime in the future.
Randy Strobel was a member of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church of Lebanon.
“We’ll have social distancing and we’ll wear masks,” said Strobel of the funeral. “I just want to see him and hold his hand. Only the immediate family will be there.
“I just want everybody to remember to be kind to one another,” Strobel concluded. “Randy always wanted me to be a better person. If we are kind to each other, the world might be a better place.”
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