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Published: Sunday, 8/10/2003

Nurseryman had popular Sandusky Christmas store

SANDUSKY - Joseph L. Strickfaden, Jr., former owner of Strickfaden's garden center and Christmas store, died of complications from cancer Friday at Community at Parkvue in Perkins Township, where he lived for five years. He was 88.

As a young man, Mr. Strickfaden helped his father run a garage and ice cream parlor in Perkins Township. He planted his first tree nursery around his father's businesses.

His family sold the land so Trojan Powder Co. could use the site to make ammunition for World War II. Mr. Strickfaden moved to 40 acres on the township's Bell Avenue.

Mr. Strickfaden spent about 50 years creating a nursery and garden center, which later included landscaping services and a craft shop.

“He had a tremendous work ethic,” his daughter, Ann Groff, said. “Working from sunup to sundown was what he loved.”

Mr. Strickfaden taught himself about many types of plants, and took short courses in horticulture from Ohio State University during the 1950s and 1960s. He was past president of the Ohio Nurserymen's Association.

He won an award from the American Nurserymen's Association for designing and landscaping the Wade W. Dauch Memorial Park in Sandusky. He traveled to the White House in 1973 and received the award from First Lady Pat Nixon.

Mr. Strickfaden also operated a year-round Christmas store.

“The community will remember him for Christmas at Strickfaden's,” his daughter said. “It was a tradition for lots of Sandusky families to go out on Thanksgiving Day and spend their afternoon looking at all the decorations.”

Mr. Strickfaden was born in Monroe, Mich. He grew up in Perkins Township and graduated from St. Mary's High School in 1933.

He belonged to St. Mary's Catholic Church in Sandusky and served the church during the 1940s and early 1950s as the Calvary Cemetery sexton.

He also served for 20 years on the board of trustees for the former Providence Hospital in Sandusky.

“My dad thought that was such an honor and he took it very seriously,” his daughter said. “He was instrumental in making a lot of decisions.”

Mr. Strickfaden loved spending time with family and dining out with friends. He belonged to the Rockwell Springs Trout Club, the Sandusky and Huron yacht clubs, and the Sandusky Elks Lodge.

Surviving are his wife of 66 years, Geraldine; son, Thomas; daughters, Dona Ehrhardt, Carol Strickfaden, and Ann Groff; eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Groff Funeral Home, Sandusky, after 3 p.m. today. Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in St. Mary's Catholic Church.

The family requests contributions to the Altar and Flower Fund of St. Mary's Catholic Church, Stein Hospice, Inc., or the Providence Fund.

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