Art Strelick still enjoys ...
Art Strelick still enjoys travels that mix business, pleasure... By Ron Paglia, For The Tribune-Review, December 31, 2006
You might think Arthur "Art" Strelick may have longed to settle down in one place after more than 30 years of traveling around the world in myriad Foreign Service assignments with the U.S. State Department
On the contrary, the Charleroi native and his
wife, Heidi, still enjoy going on the road as antique dealers.
"We sell vintage costume jewelry, works of art, small furniture items, coins, militaria and other small collectibles," said Strelick
, who now lives in Alexandria, Va. "We sell on weekends at indoor and a few outdoor antique shows in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
We average 20 to 25 shows a year.
It's a lot of fun, something we can do together."
, 67, embarked on a desire to "see the world" only a few weeks after graduation from Charleroi High School
enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps
Upon completing boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., he was promoted to private first class and assigned to Advanced Infantry Training at Camp LeJeune, N.C. From there he drew duty at the Marine Corps Supply Depot in Albany, Ga., and entertained thoughts of going overseas.
But that didn't happen.
"I was a supply administrative clerk and spent the next two and a half years issuing supplies to Marine bases all over the world," Strelick
It was during his
tenure in the Marine Corps
made up his
mind to attend college.
He enrolled at The Pennsylvania State University and graduated in 1964 with a bachelor's degree in secondary education.
"It was an unforgettable experience," he
"From my first semester on, I worked as a campus police officer and in dining halls until graduation."
student teaching requirements at a junior high school in Mt. Lebanon.
After graduation from Penn State, he taught American history, social studies and economics at Baldwin-Whitehall High School, but longed for something else as a career path.
"I wasn't satisfied with teaching and decided to attend law school at the University of Pittsburgh
"Very early in that first year, however, I came to the conclusion that the law was not for me. In the spring of 1966, I took the Foreign Service exam and in June was accepted and assigned to the Basic Foreign Service Course in Rosslyn, Va."
completed that schooling in September and his
first assignment as a Foreign Service Officer was with the American Consulate General in Munich, Germany.
also was assigned to the Foreign Service Institute's German Language School
completed that course in December 1966 and in the first week of January 1967 sailed for Europe on the SS United States, going, as he
remembers, "first class!"
"I like to tell my foreign friends that my grandfather sailed to America in the 1880s on the lower decks of an immigrant ship, and two generations later his
grandson sailed to Europe as a diplomat and first-class passenger," he
In Munich, Strelick began work as a consular officer and held that position for six months before transferring to the administrative section, where he spent the rest of his 30-year career with the Foreign Service before retiring in 1996.
At other diplomatic posts he
performed a variety of administrative duties "similar to those required for the day-to-day operations of a major company," he
"At an overseas embassy or consulate, administrative officers are responsible for providing leased or government-owned housing for its employees and, in many cases, household furniture and furnishings," Strelick
"The administrative section meets new employees, clears them and their personal effects and household items through customs, imports or arranges for purchase of their vehicles, arranges for the children's education and makes sure that the employee has office space, furniture, machines, equipment and supplies to carry out the diplomatic responsibilities of the nation."
In addition, Strelick
said, administration also runs a motor pool, garage and repair facilities and operates a maintenance unit responsible for repairs of offices, equipment, buildings and households.
"Needless to say, this requires a lot of management, coordination, record keeping, accountability, contracting and oversight," Strelick
"I was responsible for all of the logistical support leading up to the signing of the Middle East Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt in Cairo in 1979," Strelick
While on assignment in a small European country not friendly to the United States, Strelick
, on several occasions, assisted some 30 individuals from an East Bloc country who were vacationing to leave the country without the knowledge of the host nation or their own officials and seek political asylum in a friendly Western European country.
"In April 1966 I was responsible for all the transportation arrangements for the then first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and her
daughter, Chelsea, while they were in Greece to represent the United States at the lighting of the Olympic Flame in Olympia," Strelick
"I am very proud to have a very nice photo and personal letter from Mrs. Clinton thanking me for my work."
From a "strictly personal experience," Strelick
wife received much satisfaction in 1995 when they rediscovered and documented about 200 graves from a long-lost Jewish cemetery in the jungles of Suriname.
"Others took over our work after we finished our assignment, and today the site is under United Nations World Historical Protection," Strelick
Strelick said he can't point to any one person or event that inspired him to join the Foreign Service.
"Perhaps it was growing up in a closed environment of a working-class family in Charleroi
combined with the fact that I did not travel outside the United States in the Marine Corps
that inspired me to see the rest of the world," he
"I can't think of a better way than in the Foreign Service
is the oldest of three sons of the late Paul and Margaret Nagy Strelick.
had "few role models in life."
"In the 30-plus years I was with the Foreign Service, I had only one supervisor who, while not a role model, really understood and appreciated my work," he said.
"Things are very different today for high school student scholars seeking college admission," Strelick
"I'm very proud of getting and staying married to a wonderful woman for 37 years and producing a daughter I'm very proud of," Strelick
said from his
home in Alexandria, Va.
The Charleroi native met his
wife, the former Adelheid "Heidi" A. Koob, in Munich, Germany, while he
was assigned to the American Consulate General in the early part of his Foreign Service
"We were married in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1969," Strelick
"Our daughter, Adelheid B., was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1974 when we were on R&R leave from the American Embassy
in Saigon, Vietnam."
The Strelicks' daughter, also called Heidi, started going to ballet school at age 4.
"For the next 12 years I tried to balance my career and assignments with providing my daughter with the best ballet training available," Strelick
came into her
own in Brazil where she
won silver and bronze medals two years in a row at national dance competitions."
While the family was assigned to diplomatic posts in Germany from 1990-93, Heidi attended and graduated from Bonn American High School
At the same time, she
attended schools of performing arts in Cologne and Frankfurt, Germany.
mastered all aspects of the courses, in the German language, and graduated with a degree in performing arts," Strelick
Heidi then accepted a position at the City Theater (Theater Ulm) in Ulm, Germany, where she is still performing.
is the senior dancer and has won a local award for performer of the year and received much critical acclaim for her
dancing and choreography," Strelick
There's a touch of Charleroi
in Heidi's repertoire.
"My daughter received very good reviews for her
production of the ballet '1118 Lincoln Avenue,'" Strelick
said with a poignant tone in his
That address is where Strelick
and his brothers, Paul and Gerald, grew up with their parents, the late Paul and Margaret Nagy Strelick.
| Geraldine Marr, '56 | Kaye Eisenhower, '52 | Joseph Kormuth, '57 | Neil Lucas, '51 | Joseph Miller, '56 | David W. Jones, Sr., '57 | John (Jack) Stech, '51 | Bill & Joann Hagerty, '51 | Jack Fegela, '58 | Art Strelick, '59 | Roger Hough, '56 | Jack Young, '52 |