One of Brian Strobel's best friends, Lee Woolf, looked out an open window at this afternoon, saw the sun shining through and said, "I guess it's the kind of day that Brian would call a 'Dooby Dooby Doo Day,' but of course every day for Brian was a Dooby Doo Day."
Strobel, the longtime morning disc jockey for WFLS, coined the phrase "Dooby Doo" to welcome thousands of listeners every morning to his world in radio. The man and his iconic golden voice became a household name, and he used his celebrity-like status in a way to better his community and the life of others, Woolf said during Strobel's service this afternoon. Not to mention, "He was a great dad and a great husband."
"Peope like Brian don't come along very often," Woolf said.
Woolf was one of three friends who shared touching, and at times humorous, stories of Strobel in front of hundreds of people who were all touched by the man's kindness, smile and generosity. Salvation Army representatives said Strobel was singlehandedly responsible for raising about $1 million and 33,000 pairs of shoes for the needy for the organization's campaigns.
Woolf said whenever he was with Strobel at various functions in the area, it felt like he was with a rockstar. Everyone knew who Brian Strobel was, yet oftentimes Strobel would deflect the attention toward his friends. Woolf, a former sports editor at the Free-Lance Star where Strobel spent most of his career, said Strobel had a passion for helping others. He worried about being a good father and husband, and the two had a conversation shortly before Strobel was to have colon cancer surgery that stuck with Woolf today.
"'If anything happens to me, I'm at peace because I've had a really great life,'" is what Strobel told Woolf.
"That's something we'd all like to say," Woolf said. "I hope we can hold onto those words today and just feel very grateful that Brian Strobel came our way."
Another good friend of Strobel's, Michael Fields, said Strobel used his celebrity status to promote others. He said if Strobel saw the number of people there to recognize him, he'd feel a little uncomfortable and would probably stand up to give a pitch for the Salvation Army, where he served as the chairman of the Advisory Board. Fields said that when Strobel was diagnosed with colon cancer last year, his first concern was how this would impact his wife, Jenny, and their two sons. He faced his uncertain future with courage and kept a positive attitude, Fields said.
"It was never about Brian," he said.
Strobel's neighbor, Catherine Hicks, said that Strobel just a few days before his death had finished a book about the life lessons he learned while walking dogs as a hobby he took on after leaving the WFLS radio airwaves. She said he was anything but an ordinary man, although he lived his life in such a modest way in a smaller house in the neighborhood, driving a beat-up 1990 maroon Mazda 626. He put his family first and then sought to improve his community through volunteer work. Having cancer changed Strobel's perspective on life, she said. He realized that nothing was guaranteed and that death is inevitable.
"You have to make the most of each day," she said. "... Helping others out was part of how he made the most of each day."
Reading his journal and book, Hicks said she learned that Strobel began to cherish the simple things during his walks, such as the frogs, herons, ducks and swans. She said he wrote about a pug dog named "Frank" who had a face only a mother could love. Frank taught Strobel that beauty is not everything and that what people really need is love because when you take away all of the things people think are important, what remains is having another creature left to love.
"He loved all of us, especially those of us who are average," she said, "and we love him for that."
Salvation Army Captain Matthew Satterlee gave a passionate message about forgiveness. Strobel's death was a painful realization that life is short and no one is guaranteed a tomorrow. Satterlee asked everyone to forgive and show love toward others as a way to recognize Strobel.
"What are we withholding from our family and friends today?" Satterlee said. "Folks, perhaps the lesson that we need to learn from Brian today is what flowers need to be given today? What forgiveness of a family member are we holding onto that we need to take care of today? What encouraging note or kindness or thank you have we been holding onto that we need to take care of today? None of us are promised a tomorrow. May we never leave something unspoken. Forgive today. You love today. You show kindness today. You write that encouraging note today. Don't leave this place the same."
Included with this article are the messages from Lee Woolf, Michael Fields, Catherine Hicks and Salvation Army Captain Matthew Satterlee. Apologies for the quality of the recording, as some sections are easier to hear than others.