Longtime faculty members and alumni alike are mourning the passing of Robert “Strez”
Strezewski who taught English for 41 years at Saint Viator High School.
“He was an institution,” says Fr. John Milton, CSV, a former physics teacher at Saint Viator, who taught with Mr. Strezewski during his first 20 years.
Mr. Strezewski died Dec. 29. He joined the Saint Viator faculty in 1966, just five years after it had opened, and he would be a mainstay in the English department for the next four decades, until he retired in 2007.
“He was always upbeat, encouraging of students and peers, and quick with a joke,” says Br. Michael Gosch, CSV, ’74, a former colleague in the English department. “He worked hard to keep his students engaged. It was a joy working with him.”
Mr. Strezewski, it seems, had a grab bag of topics to draw from when trying to keep his students engaged. From his accordion playing to his love of books and American history — and the Chicago Cubs — he laced his classes with stories and humorous jokes.
“He was a character,” says Dave O’Grady ’87. “We really had fun in his classes, but I never saw him get angry. He was a genuinely nice guy who seemed to really enjoy teaching.”
Mrs. Eileen Manno knew Mr. Strezewski as a colleague in the faculty and then as his principal, and she said their relationship never changed.
“He was one of the kindest and funniest people I ever worked with over the years,” Mrs. Manno says. “He was a good man who never complained.”
Fr. Thomas von Behren, CSV, provincial, served as president of Saint Viator near the end of Mr. Strezewski’s career and he remembered him as one of the school’s enduring legends, whom students and faculty remembered fondly.
“Strez brought humor into the classroom,” Fr. von Behren said. “He engaged the students, was easy to get along with and was well liked.”