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Gary Stritesky


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Born and raised in Silver Lake, Minnesota, Gary Stritesky attended Silver Lake High School where he participated in football, basketball, track and baseball. He then attended St. Cloud State University and also trained at Brooks Barber School which ignited a 14-year career as a barber. He also participated in a real estate program at Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

Stritesky currently works as a school bus driver and carpenter. He recently built a six-unit townhome complex for senior citizens in Silver Lake, Minnesota. He was previously in the military, stationed in Vietnam for eight months in 1971. He has also worked as a taxi cab driver and landscaper. In 1990, Stritesky spent a year living in Melbourne, Australia, with his family during his wife's teacher exchange program. In 2002, they returned to Perth, Australia, for another year as a result of his wife's second teacher exchange program.

Stritesky has competed in multiple inline skate marathons. He also enjoys biking, canoeing and coaching. He spent many years coaching his children's soccer, baseball, basketball and football teams. At least once a year, Stritesky travels to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, taking part in portaging, canoeing, fishing and enjoying the solitude of the northern Minnesota lakes. He has biked in many areas of Minnesota, including leading a scout group to camp and family trips. He also participated in a cross-country biking adventure while in Australia.

Stritesky currently resides in Ramsey, Minnesota with his wife of 34 years, Diane. They have four children, Aaron, Alison, Leah and Kara and two grandchildren. His pet bulldog, Dobber, recently passed away. They have since adopted Harley and Blaze, two miniature dachshunds, and just returned their pet snapping turtle, Snappy, to the wilderness. Stritesky's birth date is September 16, 1951.



Green, black


Cooking steaks


Rose, sunflower

Board Games

Monopoly, Checkers

Video Games


Sports to Play

Football, baseball

Sports Teams

Minnesota Twins

Outdoor Activities

Biking, rollerblading, walking

TV Shows



Cool Hand Luke, Clint Eastwood


Country Western


Sports Illustrated, Dog World


Charmed Eagle


Cinnamon Toast Crunch


Strawberries, banana

Snack Foods

Cool Ranch Doritos


Peanut butter and sugar cookies

Candy Bars

Snickers, Almond M&M's

Alcoholic Drinks

Beer, Bloody Mary


Root beer, tomato juice

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  • 1 month later...

He said it was allergic reaction to the surroundings that were causing all those bumps and the head spinnings. He didn't have a panic attack nor did he want to quit. He says his allergic reaction to the bugs caused him dizziness and shortness of breath.

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Courtesy of: site_logo_340x60.gif

'Papa Smurf' in good shape after leaving 'Survivor'


Pioneer Press

Fans of "Survivor: Fiji" spent the last two weeks watching local contestant Gary Stritesky in very obvious pain. He took a nasty tumble during a challenge and spent most of his subsequent screentime holding his head in his hands and mumbling incoherently.

But during a phone interview Friday morning from New York, it was clear that the 55-year-old bus driver from Ramsey is not the suffering type, even if he did exit the show on a stretcher. His booming voice and amiable, energetic personality suggested that his teammates affectionately dubbed him "Papa Smurf" for reasons beyond his white beard and blue shirt.

Here's what he had to say about his time as a Survivor:

So Gary, the big question

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Is "Papa Smurf" Feeling Blue About His Survivor Exit?

by Angel Cohn


Gary Stritesky, Survivor: Fiji

Getting your torch snuffed on CBS' Survivor: Fiji (Thursdays at 9 pm/ET) is always tough to take, but having to leave the island because of a medical emergency is truly the worst way to go home, as Gary Stritesky learned last week. Dubbed "Papa Smurf" by the Moto crew, the lovable 55-year-old was plagued with dizziness and shortness of breath for days before he finally gave into the advice of the medical team and said goodbye to the beach and hello to the hospital. TVGuide.com caught up with the bus driver/carpenter to find out what exactly the problem was.

TVGuide.com: How are you feeling?

Gary Stritesky: Good. We've gotten back in the groove here, everything's going good.

TVGuide.com: They patched you all up?

Gary: Yeah, it was more that I had them bug-bite deals....

TVGuide.com: What were those bugs?

Gary: Looking back at it, I think we had a problem with ants on the deck where we were sleeping, and they might have been fire ants. The wife looked it up on the Internet, and I totally had classic symptoms of fire-ant bites. They can cause a shortness of breath and all the symptoms I had. If you don't treat it, sometimes you can have an allergic reaction, and you end up dying, so it was good that we got it taken care of.

TVGuide.com: How come you had thousands of bites, and it didn't look like anybody else had so many?

Gary: I think the reason is probably that I was sleeping on the outside, because I've got a bit of a snoring problem, and I didn't want to be rumbling the whole place. [Laughs] So, I kind of tried to stay to the outside, and [the ants] just attacked me. They had a heyday.

TVGuide.com: Did your fall on the slip-and-slide challenge contribute to your physical woes?

Gary: No. I think it rattled my cage a little bit, but I'm kind of a tough old bohunk, and I probably rattled the ground when I hit my head on it. [Laughs] I can take a pretty good bounce.

TVGuide.com: Any regrets about leaving?

Gary: Ohhh, it was the hardest thing I had to do, but I just could absolutely not function. From the time when the medics first came out, when I fell on the slip-and-slide, there was about a three- to four-day difference in there, but the cutting and editing [made it] seem like it was almost instantaneous. I knew something was going on because I had the bites starting on my ankles and then in about two days, they went all the way up to my hips. I looked like a goalie in a dart game who didn't wear padding. When it got to the arms, the dizziness got so bad.

TVGuide.com: Right, and it's not like you're eating and drinking.

Gary: Right, yeah. They drew blood and I wasn't dehydrated

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