St. Martin of Tours parishioners gathered at church on Thursday, September 14 to mourn the loss of Michael T. Strubel, parishioner, friend, and generous supporter of the church and school in Gaithersburg for over three decades. He died earlier this month at the age of 73. Mike was an extraordinary man who chose to serve the Lord by serving others with a joyful spirit. Archdiocese of Baltimore Bishop Mark E. Brennan, who was pastor of St. Martin’s for many years while Mike was a parishioner, noted, “He was truly a Christian gentleman, strong in his faith in Christ and his love for the Church and willing to pitch in where help was needed.”

In his years at St. Martin’s, Mike shared his wealth but did it quietly.  He helped to pay off parish debt, renovate the parish office, and build the Adoration Chapel. Mike made significant contributions to the school along with supporting the auction by donating valuable family heirlooms. Every time he gave, he asked that his donation remain anonymous. Mike combined his financial generosity with humble service. Every week he would stop by the parish office, coffee in hand, to see what needed to be done. “He would tell funny stories about his Navy days or what happened at Mass that day,” recounted Sheila Griffith, parish Data Manager. He would pitch in to stuff bulletins, inventory candles, update missals, and deliver wine to the sacristy. From removing gum from under pews to fixing kneelers and washing dishes in the soup kitchen, no task was too small or unimportant for Mike. He cared for those in the parish who were sick and handicapped; he drove people to their doctor’s appointments and shoveled driveways. Mike was here for all in so many ways, from the grand to the small. He appreciated the comradery of other parishioners who regularly attended the 6:30 am Mass and they often enjoyed coffee and fellowship together after Mass. Mike was a role model and was admired by those who knew him. As parishioner Marion Strishock added, "He was the epitome of the humble in spirit. He turned to Christ in humility and faith and he will be blessed.”

Mike Strubel was born in 1944 in Willamette, Illinois. He attended Notre Dame as an undergraduate and received his MBA from Columbia University. He was a naval officer for more than ten years before becoming a defense contractor in the Washington, DC area. He settled in the Germantown and Gaithersburg areas.

St. Mary of the Mills pastor Michael Mellone, attended the vigil. Monsignor Mellone was also pastor of St. Martin’s during Mike’s years as a parishioner. He said, “He was an unsung hero. He gave financially but equally important, he gave his presence to the Lord, to the church, and to those that needed him.” His many friends at the vigil were happy to share stories about what made Mike a remarkable man. Teddy Brennan, a parishioner who regularly attends the 6:30 am Mass added, “He had a wry sense of humor, gave generously in a simple and unstated way, and helped in any way he could.” Longtime friend Linda Joy said that after Mike survived colon cancer ten years ago, “He reassessed his purpose in life and decided he was here to look after those who needed looking after.”

It would be difficult to count the number of people whose lives are far better today and will continue to be, because Mike Strubel took action to help others. That number would be a fraction of the work he did. All this happened because he was a man who lived his faith by caring for others. He put their needs above his own. That example is an inspiration for us all.