Fair warning, I suggest you have tissues handy! This tragic story truly breaks my heart. I share this story to honor the memory of these three girls. There’s no telling where their precious futures were to lead them.
Fourty-five years ago this week, the three young daughters of Melvin and Frances Stroik were killed in a house fire on November 29, 1966 in Saginaw, Michigan. Also killed in this tragedy was their courageous neighbor, Herman A. Wegner, while he was attempting to call for help.
My second cousins, sisters Dawn Marie Stroik (1962 – 1966), Tammy Sue Stroik (1963 – 1966) and Michelle Rene Stroik (1966 – 1966) were killed together in their front bedroom, the victims of a little girl’s curiosity for matches. They are buried together in Roselawn Memorial Gardens in Saginaw, Michigan.
Mom Helpless As 3 Children Die In Flames
Mom Helpless As 3 Children Die In Flames
By VERN D. FOSS
News Staff Writer
A flash fire Thursday night filled three young sisters at the home of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Stroik, 6660 Dutch Road, as a 79-year old neighbor died of a heart attack running for help.
Killed by the fire were Dawn Marie Stroik, 4; Tammy Sue Stroik, 3; and Michelle R. Stroik, 9 months. The neighbor, Herman A. Wegner, 6535 Dutch, died of a heart attack as he ran to the house from the Stroik home to turn in an alarm. The THomas Township Fire Department used a resucitator, with the aid of James Township firemen, in a futile attempt to save his life.
Funeral Card for the Stroik Girls
The three sisters were dead on arrival at St. Luke’s Hospital. Enroute, sheriff’s Deputy James Forrest made an unsuccessful attempt to revive Dawne [sic] Marie using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Coronor William F. Shea said the cause of death for all three children was suffocation. The Stroiks have no other children.
Mrs. Stroik told the Sheriff’s Department she was outside, shoveling snow off the driveway about 50 feet from the house when she noticed flames in a back bedroom of the northeast corner of the house. Wegner ran to the house when he heart her screams as she tried to get into the house. She was driven back by the flames and was later treated and released at St. Luke’s for minor burns to her face and hands. Stroik was on his way home from work when the tragedy occurred.
James firemen received the alarm at 7:18 p.m. and called for aid from Thomas firemen. An investigation after the fire last night and again this morning by James Fire Chiel Jack E. Ferchae, Thomas Fire Chief Kenneth W. Gauze and Sheriff Robert E. Loubert indicated children playing with matches caused the blaze.
A quantity of unused kitchen matches was found on the carpeted floor of the parents’ bedroom in the front, or southeast corner of the house, where the children were found. Also in the baby’s crib underneath the blankets were two burned matches.
Mrs. Stroik told Loubert that before she went outside she checked and found all three children asleep, the two oldest in the back bedroom and the youngest in the front bedroom. Ferchae and Gauze agreed that the fire definitely started in the back bedroom, which was burned out. A honeycombed hot spot and hole in the floor were found there. The blaze spread throughout the house, burning the walls and ceilings.
Mrs. Stroik told sheriff’s deputies the only box of kitchen matches in the house was kept in a kitchen cupboard. Apparently one of the older children started the fire in the back bedroom, became frightened and both ran to the front bedroom with the baby, officials surmise.
The bodies of the Stroik children are at the Shea funeral home and the body of Wegner is at the Case Funeral Chapel.
Obituary for Dawn Marie, Manny Sue and Michelle Rene Stroik
Stroik, Dawn Marie,
Stroik, Tammy Sue,
6660 Dutch Road.
Passed away Tuesday evening at St. Luke’s Hospital from injuries received in a fire at their home. Dawn Marie was born Sept. 17, 1962, Tammy Sue, Oct. 28, 1963, and Michelle, Feb. 15, 1966. Surviving are their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Stroik, their grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Ben Stroik; Mr. and Mrs. Frank Talik; great-grandparents, Mrs. Angeline Wolak, Mrs. Helen Stroik, Mr. and Mrs. Otto Wegner, all of Saginaw. Funeral service will take place 1 p.m. Friday at the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints., 300 N. Center Road, one-half block north of Gratiot Ave. Elder Lynn L. Hensley will officiate assisted by Elder Ezra Bennett, with burial in Roselawn Memorial Gardens. Friends may call at the Shea Funeral Home from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. Thursday and from 11 a.m. Friday at the church until time of service.
The article and the obituary were both published in The Saginaw News in Saginaw, Michigan on Wednesday, November 30, 1966.
Gravesite for the Stroik Girls
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Merry Christmas from Tammy and Dawn Stroik (1964)