Elwood Malcolm Strom passed away on December 2, 2023 in Council Grove, Kansas. He was born March 24, 1918, to Albena and Elwood Strom on their farm near Dwight, Kansas. It was during the same month, only 20 miles away, that the great pandemic of 1918 began. Malcolm attended Hurino country school and Dwight High School, graduating in 1935. In 1939 Malcolm graduated from Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science (now Kansas State University) with a degree in agronomy. In August of 1941 he began his work with the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) in Alcester, South Dakota. Following his service in WW II, he returned to the SCS where he spent most of his time in South Dakota. In 1964 he transferred to New Hampshire, where he became the assistant state conservationist. Toward the end of his career, Malcolm had the opportunity to spend 2 years in Nigeria, where he headed an agricultural school under the auspices of USAID. In 1973, Malcolm retired from SCS, and with his wife, Edith, moved back to the family farm at Dwight, where his mother, Albena, still lived. Though retired from government service, he spent several years as an agricultural consultant with Dr. Everett Dennis, of Manhattan, Kansas.
Malcolm served his country during both WW II and the Korean War. He was sworn into the army on December 8th, 1941, the day war was declared on Japan. After officer candidate school, he was assigned to the 102nd Evacuation Hospital and trained as their transportation officer. His unit left California for Europe in April 1944. His unit crossed France, Luxembourg, and Belgium, finally entering Germany at the end of the war. He was released from service on December 8, 1945, four years to the day after taking his oath of enlistment. He stayed in the Army Reserves and was then called up for duty in 1951 during the Korean War for eighteen months.
On December 17, 1942, Malcolm married the love of his life, Edith Kelley, who died in September 1999. During their fifty-six years of marriage, the couple had three children: Eric was born in March 1944, just as Malcolm prepared to ship out for Europe. Sadly, he survived only one day and is buried in Vinland, Kansas. Following the war, the couple had two more children: Byron Malcolm (b. 1946) and Katharine Elaine, born (b. 1948).
In addition to his love for his family and his church, Malcolm had several other interests, including history, travel, birdwatching, photography, and genealogy.
Malcolm was raised in the United Methodist Church in Dwight. After retirement, he once again became a member of the Methodist church and held several church roles and responsibilities in its local, county, and state organizations. He was active in Friends of Kaw Heritage, and the Morris County Historical Society.
Malcolm loved to travel with Edith. They had the opportunity to visit their daughter, Kathy and her family in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Nepal, and the Netherlands. He made a connection with his Swedish relatives and traveled several times to visit them. In addition, they went to Haiti and Mexico for several Methodist mission trips and to Poland for a Heifer Project trip. In the later years of his life, he was able to visit the Amazon and Alaska with his daughter, Kathy and her husband, Gertjan.
Bird watching was another activity Malcolm and Edith shared. He traveled to the Galápagos Islands to watch birds. It wasn’t unusual for Malcolm to spend the day at Cheyenne Bottoms, watching the birds, and taking photographs. Until his eyes were affected by disease, he was an avid reader of history.
In the last year of his life, he lived at Morris County Assisted Living where he charmed the staff with his kind and friendly spirit. His presence will be missed. The world has lost a man of integrity who loved and was committed to his family, his country, and his God.
Malcolm is survived by a sister, Helen Fowler, a son, Byron Strom (Becky), his daughter, Katharine Renes (Gertjan), four grandchildren: Laura O’Halloran (Jeff), Joanna Des Marteau (André), Willem Renes, Sophia Gustafsson-Renes (Anders), and 6 great grandchildren: Cian, Kaitlin and Grady O’Halloran, Rémy and Elsa Des Marteau, and Sigrid Gustafsson-Renes. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, Edith, son, Eric Kelley Strom, sisters Deloris Strom and Dorothy Wasmund, and brother, Paul Strom.
Memorial contributions are suggested to the Dwight United Methodist Church or Heifer Project International and can be sent in care of Sawyer Funeral Home, P.O. Box 273, Council Grove, KS, 66846.
A Celebration Of Life for Mr. Strom will be held at a later date.