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Slim Strobel, Sussex mechanic for 46 years

The Aug. 26 Sussex Sun ran an extensive obituary on longtime Sussex business man, Cornelius C. "Slim" Strobel. While this obituary tells of his death Monday, Aug. 24, 2009, at the age of 79, it barely touches on the life of this big man with the small frame; as only a very privileged few knew his baptized name, Cornelius.

Slim was in business for 46 years in Sussex from August 1963 to the present. When he came to Sussex in 1963, the population of the Village was about 1,600 compared to today's more than 10,000 residents.

A master mechanic, Slim was born on July 17, 1930 in Elmore, Wis., near Campbellsport. He was the eighth child of nine born to Barbara (nee Muellenbach) and Lawrence Strobel. He was the last of four brothers in the family, and all were expected to work on the new farm the family acquired in Dousman - a 36-acre spread.

Slim graduated from Dousman Grade School in 1944 and was one of only two Waukesha students to win a coveted American Legion award in the county.

Slim received his nickname in his 20s after getting a part-time job doing custom saw work cutting up logs when there was a little slack time on the farm. One day the boss mentioned that Cornelius was a horrendous name and he needed something different and shorter; he came up with "Slim" for the strapping 6-foot 3-inch tall worker. Eventually Slim left the farm and got some training to augment his natural mechanical ability. This led to a job at Schoetter Chevrolet and Martz Chevrolet in Menomonee Falls. It was here that he met Martin "Johnny" Johnson, and together they decided to strike out on their own.

In August 1963, Slim and Johnny bought the property at N64W23936 Main Street from Stier.

Slim became the sole proprietor of the business around 1975 after Johnny left Sussex Auto. It became an extended family enterprise as today Slim's son, Nick, is in charge and his grandson, Nick Jr., is employed there.

As a young man Slim acquired a passion for softball, but could not play as there was work to be done on the farm. So in 1976 when Sussex started the lighted field softball league at the Village Park, he sponsored a team (sometimes two) for the next 33 years and named it "Sussex Auto." It was a highly competitive team that won its share of championships.

Longtime team member Greg Lauer said, "Slim was a good sponsor. He tried to come to all our games, and always sat in the bleachers nearest our team bench. Immediately before the end of the game he would get some pitchers of beer for the players ready for an after game party."

When Slim was diagnosed this past spring, lung cancer, he still tried to get to the games until just this past month.

Strobel married MaryAnn Karst in 1954. She died in 2005. They had four children, and raised four nephews as their own children. There were 11 grandchildren and now three great-grandchildren.

Funeral proceedings were Friday and Saturday, Aug. 28 and 29 with burial at the St Augustine Cemetery in Washington County.

Death Notice

Cornelius C. Strobel

Cornelius C. Strobel, of Sussex, was Born to Eternal Life Monday, Aug. 24, 2009, surrounded by his loving family.

Cornelius "Slim" was born in Elmore, Wis., on July 17, 1930, the second youngest of nine children born to Lawrence and Barbara (nee Muellenbach) Strobel. Slim was married to MaryAnn (Karst), who preceded him in death. He will be sadly missed by his loving children, Neil (Diane) of Merrill, Wis; Rose Marie (Daniel) Tetzlaff of New Richmond, Wis.; Victoria (Timothy) Erickson of Toledo, Ohio; and Nicholas (Diane) Strobel of Sussex; Jeff (Kelli) Stolen of Saukville; Jim Stolen of Cudahy; and Karl Stolen of Waukesha; and Kirk (Marie) Stolen of San Diego, Calif. Grandchildren include: Brad (Carey) Strobel, Elizabeth (Eric) Erdman, Doug (Megan) Strobel, Jessica (Matt) Linkletter, Natalee Tetzlaff, Nathaniel Erickson, Nick (Shelly) Boel, Nicholas Strobel, Amanda Strobel, Matthew Gundrum and Missy Gundrum. Great-grandchildren are: Emelia Erdman, Caleb Linkletter and Dylan Boel.

Growing up, Slim worked on the family farms where he developed his love for the outdoors. Many of his fondest memories involved hunting with his brother, George. Throughout his life, Slim shared his love with his sons, nephews and grandchildren. Slim worked as an auto mechanic for Schoetter Chevrolet and Martz Chevrolet in Menomonee Falls. It was there that he met Martin "Johnny" Johnson. In 1963, that friendship resulted in the start of Sussex Auto Inc. on Main Street, which is currently operated by Slim's son and grandson. Slim was a perennial sponsor and friend to the softball players that were on the Sussex Auto Teams over the past 30 years.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Basilica of Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary - St. Therese Chapel Level 2, 1525 Carmel Road, Hubertus. Burial will follow in St. Augustine Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28, at the Funeral Home with a Prayer Service at 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Aurora VNA Hospice are appreciated.


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