August 20, 2007, Enar Strom died unexpectedly on Barnum Island. Enar was 79
years old. He was known on Isle Royale as the “caretaker” of Washington Harbor.
He spent the last quarter of a century with his wife Betty, who grew up on
Washington Island, from spring through fall living in the AC Andrews cabin on
Barnum Island. Enar took care of, and restored many of the historic buildings
and docks on Barnum Island and Washington Island. These include the big and
little fish houses, nearly all of the cabins on Washington Island, the big
boathouse, the Barnum Cabin, the Dunwoody Cabin, the AC Andrews Cabin, the first
Barnum log house, all of which are still standing and in pretty good shape as a
result of Enar’s dedication to preserving the cultural history of the area.
Enar was a man of many abilities. He had a unique
spirit of warmth, friendliness and a keen intelligence, which was particularly
on display in his sense of humor. People of all ages and backgrounds could
immediately recognize what a wonderful person he was upon first meeting him. He
was a man unafraid to show his faith and patriotism and particularly his love of
Isle Royale. At every evening meal he would say grace by singing, as would all
the guests “Oh the Lord’s Been Good to Me”.
the best of circumstances working conditions on Isle Royale are not easy. His
preservation work on the island demonstrated a decided innovativeness, and
resourcefulness in rebuilding and restoring buildings and structures that are
eligible for the National Register of Historic Sites. He often worked alone,
and was tireless in his efforts.
Enar was beloved by all, crossing every generation. He
had a particularly close relationship with NPS personnel, who frequently visited
Enar and Betty. Every fall Enar and Betty hosted a traditional Thanksgiving
dinner for all park people who remained in Washington Harbor. It was during the
fall season that Enar and Betty participated in the fall assessment fishing for
many years, along with Milford and Monica Johnson of Amygdaloid Island.
believed in the goals and efforts of IRFFA and attended summer meetings on both
ends of the island. He planned to attend his first winter IRFFA meeting this
year as he and Betty had moved their winter home from Arizona back to northern
Minnesota. Though he won’t be there, IRFFA plans to feature a tribute to Enar as
part of our dinner program, which will be held in Duluth at the Inn on Lake
Superior on January 19, 2008.