William S. Stricker, 69, union carpet layer and floor setter

May 11, 1998|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

Even after carpet layer William S. Stricker retired nine years ago, he kept alive his habit of being handy: He would repaint the house on a whim, install bookshelves, put up walls, tile floors, and he would watch reruns of "Home Improvement."

Stricker, a union carpet layer and floor setter, died in his sleep in his Catonsville home May 8. He was 69.

"He always had a lot of projects going," recalled his daughter Mary Jo Stricker of Catonsville. "Any time you ever needed anything fixed, he'd do it -- for the whole family."

Most days she dropped her 5-year-old cocker spaniel, Clover, off at her father's home on her way to work. Mr. Stricker and her dog would spend the day together as he replaced floor tiles, fixed outlets and stopped leaks while whistling Glenn Miller or other big-band tunes.

Sometimes, Mr. Stricker would decide on an impulse that "the whole house would have to be painted," his daughter said. "He had specific brushes for specific things, and a specific way of doing it."

By early evening the handy work would stop and he'd settle in the living room to watch repeat episodes of his favorite situation comedies: "Home Improvement," "Frasier," "Mad About You" and Seinfeld."

"During those four shows," his daughter recalled with a laugh, "everybody had to keep quiet."

Before his retirement, Mr. Stricker balanced difficult, sometimes painful work with plenty of playtime with family. For most of his adult life he belonged to a local union that sought installation work in commercial businesses.

"Big jobs," said his wife, the former Mary Agnes McNulty. "He worked on his knees all the time" and sometimes complained of leg pains.

When he wasn't working, he loved going on drives with his wife to Fort McHenry to look at boats. Each summer he took home movies of his daughters, nieces and nephews, who spent a week vacationing together in Ocean City. He also enjoyed playing the card games "War" and "Go Fish" with his grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, U.S. 40 at St. Agnes Lane in Catonsville.

Besides his wife and daughter, Mr. Stricker is survived by two other daughters, Susan Stricker and Patricia Cluster, both of Catonsville; a sister, Betty Pfeifer of Catonsville; a brother, Gilbert Stricker of Ocean Pines; and two granddaughters.

Pub Date: 5/11/98

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