Let’s go fishing

June 30, 2023

Let’s go fishing

New Era Police Chief Roy Strait and his wife Nancy invite Oceana County Medical Care Facility residents to their home for a fun-filled day of fishing and a picnic.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor

CLAYBANKS TOWNSHIP — New Era Police Chief Roy Strait invited Oceana County Medical Care Facility residents to enjoy a morning of fishing followed by a picnic lunch made by his wife, Nancy, at their home Friday, June 30.

The outing has become an annual tradition at the Straits’ beautiful farmland property that features rolling hills, swaying trees and lush green grass. Not only do the medical care facility anglers enjoy the reflective views of the small pond where they fish but they also smile as they watch the wildlife and farm animals, including Nancy’s horse, Winston. 

Roy, wearing his bib overalls and cracking jokes, got right to work helping the six wheelchair-bound men and women savor a morning of fishing for bluegills. With the help of friends Bob Farber, who is the retired Oceana County Sheriff, and John Heykoop, they loaded the folks onto a trailer pulled by Roy’s tractor to the shimmering pond. 

Roy, who turns 86 years old Monday, is the same age or older than the residents he’s helping. “I may be going back with them,” he joked.

“I wish there were more Roys in this world,” said Heykoop. “He does so many things for people that most people don’t even know about.”

Roy is the founder of the Roy’s Kids program, which generously provides toys and holiday meals for local children and families in need. Police officers from local agencies — some of whom dress like Santa Claus — deliver the goodies to the families right before Christmas.

Medical care facility staff bus the residents to Roy and Nancy’s rural 53-acre property and stay on hand to help during the fishing trip.

“It’s so neat to see their faces,” said Heykoop of the residents when they reel in a fish from the pond. “They look forward to it every year.”

Rusty Streblow and Dan Schmiediknecht generously provide fishing poles and also help the residents bait hooks and cast lines. One resident was so eager and prepared for the trip, he brought his own fishing equipment along.

“Roy and Nancy have hotdogs and hamburgers and all kinds of stuff,” said Farber. “I think everybody enjoys it. It’s good for them to get out of the facility. It’s just awesome.”

The little bluegills caught in the small pond are released back into the water.

For the residents, not only is the outing a great way to enjoy some fresh country air and sunshine, but it also brings back some wonderful memories of their youthful summer days.

“When I was 11 years old, I caught a 14 ½ pound pike out of Hart Lake — 36 inches long,” said Sally Malburg, who is “79 and 3/4” years old. 

“I like it,” said Don Sible, 82, who has enjoyed fishing all his life. “It’s a beautiful day.”

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