Strum, Susan (Interview transcript and video), 2019


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Strum, Susan (Interview transcript and video), 2019


Smither, James (Interviewer)
WKTV (Wyoming, Mich.)


Susan Strum was born in Alberta, Canada, in 1951 and grew up in Michigan after her father’s work moved to the United States. Her father was a Canadian citizen working for a telephone company in Edmonton and her mother was a schoolteacher in Michigan. After graduating high school in 1969, Strum enrolled into Muskegon Community College, but the poor job market deterred her from completing her degree and she began looking into the military as a viable alternative. She enlisted into the Navy in 1971 once she earned her full American citizenship. For Basic Training, Strum was sent to Bainbridge, Maryland, where she described the induction process as oddly organized. She was trained as a Dispersing Clerk and was transferred to a Naval Training Center in San Diego, California, for another ten weeks of training on how to calculate payrolls and use calculators while in sexually integrated courses. From there, she was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, for a year where she handled payrolls for several Navy detachments on the base. Strum later began training in recognizing precipitation types, meteorology, and weather patterns in Lakehurst, New Jersey, from 1973-75. After graduation, she was transferred to a Naval base at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, where she was assigned to the base’s Weather Office. While at Roosevelt Roads, Strum was more concerned with the unstable, violent political situation in Puerto Rico than with the ongoing war in Vietnam. She was also the first woman assigned to the Weather Office at Roosevelt Roads. From there, Strum decided to leave the Navy since she had accrued enough service points, was discharged, and returned to Muskegon, Michigan, where she re-enrolled into Muskegon Community College. She graduated with a degree in urban geography and a minor in sociology and went on to study regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania for her graduate degree. Strum was then hired by the city of Orlando as a regional planner and proceeded to spend the next thirty years of her career in Florida before retiring in 2012. She then moved back to Muskegon and began volunteering at the USS Silversides Museum. Reflecting upon her service, Strum believed the climate for women in the military was, for the most part, good despite some isolated instances of gender conflict. She ultimately believed her time in the Navy was a great experience which taught her the values of patience, focus, and discipline.




In Copyright


Grand Valley State University Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives, 1 Campus Drive, Allendale, MI, 49401.


Veterans History Project (U.S.)






Moving Image




Strum, Susan Margaret, “Strum, Susan (Interview transcript and video), 2019,” Digital Collections, accessed March 4, 2024,
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