COLUMBIA — Hickman High School soccer coach Jon Strodtman was a man of many talents who brought a meticulous passion to his work both on and off the field.
“He was an expert and a perfectionist at everything he did,” his wife, Kay Strodtman, said.
Mr. Strodtman died Monday of intestinal cancer; he was first diagnosed in December 2000. He was 45.
Mr. Strodtman’s resilience remained with him even during his illness, his wife said.
“Even up to the last days of his life when he couldn’t eat he still cooked for everybody,” she said.
The soccer coach’s engaging spirit naturally attracted people to him, said Lonnie Taylor, a longtime friend of Mr. Strodtman.
“His personality was a personality that drew you in. He had thousands, literally thousands, of friends,” he said.
Lonnie Taylor met Mr. Strodtman when his son, Adam, went out for soccer in 1999, Mr. Strodtman’s first year of coaching at Hickman. He said he admired Mr. Strodtman’s coaching style from the outset of their friendship.
“He was the kind of coach who would give a kid a pat on the back,” he said. “He wasn’t a barker or a yeller. He was an instructor.”
Doug Mirts, athletic director at Hickman High School, said he had a feeling about Strodtman the first time he met him.
“He had a vision and a focus,” he said.
Mirts said Mr. Strodtman’s coaching manner and ability to develop a good rapport with his players made him an exceptional coach.
“He was kind of old-school but able to relate to the new-school type of kids,” Mirts said.
The same work ethic and attention to detail that Mr. Strodtman demonstrated in coaching served him well off the field as well.
Mr. Strodtman maintained many hobbies, including woodworking, hunting, fishing and target shooting. The perseverance he brought to his many interests remained with him until his death Monday, his wife said.
“The man could do anything,” Lonnie Taylor said.
Mr. Strodtman built his own home and that of his parents as an extension of his passion for woodworking.
“Jon was a perfectionist with wood,” Mirts said, referring to Mr. Strodtman’s many woodworking projects, one of which was a set of oak trophy cases in the high school.
Mr. Strodtman became head boys’ soccer coach at Hickman in 1999 and took over as the girls’ head coach in 2005. He had to give up his position as the boys’ head coach in 2007 due to his health but remained the girls’ head coach until his death, Mirts said.
Matt Taylor, a former Hickman soccer player, said Mr. Strodtman made sure to keep up with his players during the off-season and after they graduated.
“He wanted to be always a part of what his players were doing,” he said. “He always referred to us as his kid. We weren’t his players, we were his kids.”
It was his close relationship with his former players, along with his family, that kept Mr. Strodtman going during his illness.
“He never felt sorry for himself,” Matt Taylor said.
Lonnie Taylor said Mr. Strodtman was determined to beat his illness.
“He wanted to live. He was a fighter,” he said.
This toughness and resolve is what Mirts said he will miss most about Mr. Strodtman.
Referring to his sadness at his friend’s illness, Mirts said: “Jon would tell me, ‘Get over it. Let’s get on with it. We have work to do.’”
Mr. Strodtman was born Jan. 26, 1963, in Wheat Ridge, Colo., and was raised in Lakewood, Colo.
He is survived by his wife, Kay, and their four children.
His visitation will be Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Hallsville Baptist Church. Funeral services will be at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Hickman High School, with an open viewing at 2 p.m.
Kay Strodtman said her husband’s legacy is his strength and perseverance.
“He was a role model for the kids he taught,” she said. “He battled. Nobody should have to suffer what he did, yet he remained strong and made the best of everyday.”
Lonnie Taylor said the death of his friend is a great loss to the community.
Mirts agreed. “He has touched a lot of people, myself included,” he said. “I will never forget him.”