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Joel Strack

Picture of Joel Strack

Joel Strack was a 1978 graduate of Sycamore High School.   As a high school student, he was known for his flaming red hair, impish nature, and an unabashed enthusiasm for theater and music.    He pursued these passions throughout high school as a regular cast member in school plays, choir, and Madrigals.  Strack was also active within 4H, earning one of nine Leadership Scholarships presented by “Reader’s Digest” at the National 4H Club Congress in 1979.

Strack carried his passion for music and theater into college, but actually majored in a personalized version of Public Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. During the summer following his freshman year at the U of I, Strack worked at Disneyland in California. His enjoyment from that experience led him to enroll in the inaugural year of Disneyworld’s College Intern Program in Orlando, Florida.   After graduation from college, he returned to that world-famous theme park and began a career that spanned three decades.

Strack is revered as a “trailblazer” in the Orlando, Florida LGBTQ+ community.  He was instrumental in the formation of the Orlando Gay Chorus, the Orlando Gay Pride Parade, and also helped launch “Gay Days” at Disneyworld.  He served on the board of the Orlando LGBTQ+ Center and is honored with a display in the Orlando History Museum.

One of eight children, Joel was the son of Jeff and Mary Lu Strack and grew up in rural Sycamore.  He and his siblings earned money for further education by operating Strack Gardens, raising and selling vegetables and strawberries at a roadside stand.

Strack credited his participation in music and theatre in the Sycamore Schools and the many opportunities afforded by 4H membership for much of his success in life.  He left an enduring legacy of opportunity for members of the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and around the world through his small-town leadership style.

  • 2021

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