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Man active, happy and celebrating 103

The year 1917 preceded the entrance of the United States into World War I and the application of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity  but not the birth of Mathius Strobl, a Lawton man who turned 103 years old on Wednesday.

Strobl celebrated his birthday by scoring two home runs during a game of beanbag baseball alongside his daughter, Cache resident Margaret Plunkett, and his friends at Brookridge Retirement Community, 7802 NW Quanah Parker Trailway.

Described by his daughter as a man of endurance who is intelligent, reflective and caring, Strobl said he's fortunate to feel well at age 103, and his advice for living a long, healthy life is simple.

"Just live it," he said. " ... Life was tough (back then). If you weren't tough, you didn't survive."

"Tough" is right. Strobl lived through the economic hardship of the Great Depression, the demands of World War II and the heartache of losing his wife.

As he sat beside his daughter inside Brookridge Retirement Community on Wednesday, he described his birthday as a day like any other  but when he turned back the pages of his life to share stories, it became evident that his life was just as joyful as it was tough.

He lived to experience the joys of fatherhood, hard work and travel. 

Born Oct. 11, 1917, on a farm in southern Minnesota, Strobl saw firsthand how to handle cattle, and at age 16, he and another man rode and slept in a boxcar full of cows from Minnesota to California.

"This was in the Depression. No one had any money," his daughter, Plunkett, said. "Their (Strobl and the man's) job was to keep the cows on their feet, so when they would fall  instead of trampling each other and killing each other  they'd have to get down there and get those cows up."

Strobl's days on the farm were placed on a four-year hold when he was drafted as a medic in World War II and sent to England and France. 

Strobl said his most memorable moment of the war was when "the Germans signed the peace." In the midst of the war, Strobl fell in love with a nurse at Scott and White Medical Center in Texas. That nurse later became his wife, mother of their two daughters, Margaret and Catherine, and travel buddy. 

After the war, Strobl returned to the cattle industry in New Mexico, and his wife worked as a school nurse for Albuquerque Public Schools. Strobl said for two or three years, he worked seven days a week straight to make ends meet. 

The Lawton Constitution

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