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Jim Stroope: Cooking Cancer Away One BBQ at a Time

BY JACLYN ROSE –

Growing up, Jim Stroope’s family consisted of his parents and five siblings. Out of those his sister, Norma, was diagnosed with breast cancer around 30 years ago, and is a survivor. His sister, Kay, was diagnosed with breast cancer twice and is a survivor. His mother was diagnosed with cancer and did not survive, and Sue, the youngest of his sisters, was diagnosed with cancer and did not survive.  When asked why he gives much of his time and talent on the BBQ grill to both cancer research and Clarice’s Room of Hope, a local cancer support group, Stroope responds by listing off his dear mother and sisters and then simply says, “That will answer your question.”

Born and raised in nearby Montgomery County, Stroope left town after high school graduation in 1977 and never planned on moving back, but in 1999 they did just that and took over their family farm in Black Springs, Arkansas.  With a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s of Business Administration, Stroope also began a career at Nidec that same year, where he continues to serve as Assistant Plant Manager.  “I am proud of the plant, I call it the ‘Pride of the Ouachitas’.  We employ 397 people building very large electrical motors, it’s a great place to work,” explained Stroope.

Together with his wife Joyce, the Stroope family has three children, including two sons named James, and a daughter, Kaitlyn.  The Stroopes’ are also blessed with two daughters-in-law, Amanda and Ashley and three granddaughters, Brooklyn, Cloey and Audrey.  “Both Joyce and I had a son named James when we married and we have so much fun with that at Christmas,” said Stroope with a laugh.  “It’s a yours and mine situation but, you know, I don’t think anybody knows the difference.”

Stroope is a grill master, and first started volunteering by working with Regina Lowry and the Relay for Life.  “We have a plant team for Nidec and we started selling BBQ sandwiches. Last year we bought 900 pounds of pork and sold it throughout the community.   Nidec is super to allow us to be active in the community.  Our Plant Manager, Mark Kinder and Michelle Smedley in Cost Control are very supportive of the work we do in the community,” explained Stroope.

For the last three years, Stroope has also served as a Celebrity Waiter for the Polk County Relay for Life.  He has won celebrity waiter of the year every year for raising the greatest amount of donations. He also won Sneakiest Waiter of the Year last year, for stealing the most tips from other tables.

“Two years ago, I was approached by Clay Sickles to help with a local charity that provides cancer support, Clarice’s Room of Hope, and that is when I met Teena Brown.  Joyce came up with the idea to donate all the meat for the first BBQ Fundraiser in December 2013 and we cooked it and Teena sold it.  This is a chance for us to help with a group that keeps things local,” explained Stroope.  On Friday, October 31, 2014 Clarice’s Room of Hope will host another BBQ Fundraiser with Stroope at the grill.  From 10 am until 1 pm they will be selling pulled pork sandwiches with chips and a water for $5 or a pound of pulled pork for $8 at 403 North Morrow.  For tickets call 479.385.5071.

Stroope also grills competitively and has won 1st place in ribs at the local Lum and Abner Festival and 2nd place overall.  “I have two large grills, including a custom grill built by Jim Flatte and myself.  I have now handed brisket over completely to Joyce and she is the ‘brisket diva’ and I am focusing on desserts on the grill.  I have a pineapple upside-down cake that is to die for,” Stroope said with a grin.

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