YAKIMA - Max Richard Strait, age 92, of Yakima died November 23, 2012. He was born July 22, 1920 at his home in Seneca, Missouri to Ernest and Mary Strait.
Following the death of his father, Max, age 10, along with his two brothers and mother, moved to Cowiche, Washington. Max enjoyed riding his bicycle all around Cowiche. He contributed money to the family by becoming skilled at making apple boxes for Holtzinger Fruit. After receiving a book on pitching by Dizzy Dean from one of his co-workers, Max honed his pitching skills during his breaks and lunchtime.
Max was a star pitcher at Cowiche High School. Upon his graduation in 1938, Max attended Washington State College on a baseball scholarship. This began his lifetime devotion to the Cougs and the game of baseball.
Following the outbreak of WWII, Max enlisted in the Army Air Corps and attained the rank of 1st Lieutenant. He served as a navigator bombardier on a B-24 Liberator which flew 33 sorties over Austria, Italy, and Germany. At age 22, he was the oldest crew member which earned him the nickname, “Father.” After the war, he returned to Cowiche and played 3 seasons of professional baseball for the Yakima team. He worked for the Washington Department of Agriculture for 30 years and after retirement, worked for Crop Hail Management.
He met the love of his life, Elaine Taylor Vincent, at Cowiche Growers. They married in 1947 and resided in their country home on Weikel Road for 38 years. Max and Elaine were married for over 60 years. They had two children, Randy and Cindy. Max was a loving husband and father who demonstrated his feelings through his actions. He was very active in all phases of his children’s lives from coaching baseball to transporting them and their friends to all their various activities and events.
Max and his two brothers, Howard and Ray, built the “Straits Crooked Inn” rustic cabin at Goose Prairie in 1953. Many fun and memorable times were had at the cabin with family and friends. For many years, Max enjoyed weekly bowling competitions at local lanes. Frequently, his name appeared in the newspaper in the list of high scores. He also enjoyed fishing with friends and family members.
One of Max’s greatest joys was watching his grandchildren’s many school and athletic events. He was a kind and loving “Old Growler” who often stealthily passed “seed money” or “walking around money” into the hands of his grandchildren unbeknownst to their parents.
Later in life, Max enjoyed reunions with his B-24 crew and traveling with Elaine to all parts of the U.S. and Hawaii. Max was a patriotic American who loved and served his country.
Max Strait was preceded in death by his parents, Ernest and Mary Strait; his wife, Elaine Strait; and by his brothers and their wives: Ray and Esther Strait, Howard and Mary Strait.
Max is survived by his children: Randy Strait and wife, Debbie and Cindy Zimmerman and husband, Ron and by his grandchildren: Dylan Strait and wife, Sam, Andrew Strait, Jared Strait and Jacob Roybal, Katie Zimmerman, and Sara Zimmerman.
The family especially wants to thank Loren Kitts for his devoted friendship and Wanda Collins for her exceptional care giving and kindness.
A memorial service celebrating Max’s life will be held Saturday, December 1 at 1:00 p.m. at Keith and Keith Funeral Home, 902 West Yakima Avenue, Yakima, Washington. If desired, memorials may be made to Wounded Warriors or the WSU Athletic Fund.