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Sandy man lives an active retirement

Norm Trost divides his time between the school district, Meals on Wheels and Kiwanis


by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - Norm Trost, who has lived on Marmot Road for years, stands near part of what he calls his mini-farm, showing some of his sheep and goats. Even deep into his retirement, Trost continues to volunteer to help people of all ages in the community.Like a lot of Southern Californians surrounded by too many friends, family and neighbors, Norm Trost and his wife, Arty, decided to move with their son to Oregon.

They wanted more “elbow room.”

Back in the mid-’70s, there were fewer people in the Beaver State, and Norm Trost already liked the environment after a camping trip to Silver Falls.

But Trost didn’t know just how big Oregon’s welcome mat was going to be — until he crossed the border and landed in Boring.

All was great for the Oregon Trosts, with one major exception. They missed Thanksgiving.

Back in Southern California, surrounded by extended family members, there would be a gathering every November with 60-70 people dividing several turkeys and all the trimmings.

But in Oregon, the Trosts knew no one when they first crossed the border around Memorial Day. By Labor Day, they had moved to a home on Marmot Road near Sandy, and they began to dread the oncoming November holiday.

“Come Thanksgiving, there was just the three of us (Norm, Arty and son Mark),” he said. “We didn’t know anyone.”

Even though isolated, they made it through the long holiday, but Trost had a plan to increase his contacts in his new homeland.

“I called my father’s neighbor (in California),” he said. “And I asked him (a Kiwanis member) how to get involved with Kiwanis.

“He said, ‘I’ll take care of it.’ Within 48 hours I got a call from a member of the local Kiwanis Club; I went to a meeting; and was accepted as a member.”

That was a recipe for an instant network of friends.

Nowadays, the Trosts invite 20-30 of their friends who don’t have family in the area to a Thanksgiving meal — recreating the feeling they loved so much in California when the family would gather for the holiday.

With that one phone call to his father’s friend, Trost gained a large number of friends, and since then he has been deeply invested in the service club’s activities.

For example, Trost almost always stands at the first pancake grill at the Kiwanis Fly-in, Cruise-in.

The exception was the first year he worked at the fund-raising event in the late ‘70s. At that time, he was put at the far end of the serving line to serve ham. Part way through the breakfast, however, Ivan Barker (a Sandy Rexall pharmacist and longtime Kiwanian) asked Trost if he could cook pancakes.

Trost’s “yes” brought him to the front of the line, where he has remained almost every year.

He also has joined the Kiwanians when they deliver Christmas baskets to needy families.

“I have seen some families who have fallen on hard times,” he said, “and they were so happy that there was food for Christmas and some presents for the kids.

“And when you see that look of gratitude on their faces, you know you’ve done something that made these people feel better, happier. You also know you’ve connected with another part of the community. It makes me feel good. I’m happy because they’re happy.”

Another volunteer activity that draws Trost’s interest — has for more than a decade — is the city’s Meals on Wheels program.

Trost delivers meals to people in the area who, for various reasons, are unable to get out or prepare food for themselves. Most are seniors, but some are handicapped or homebound and recovering from a health issue.

Trost finds this activity particularly gratifying, often spending 15-30 minutes talking with the people after giving them a food box.

That’s how he finds out if the people need someone to listen or if they have an issue that the city can offer help.

“To different degrees, they all appreciate the fact you’ve brought them a meal,” he said. “And I try to be willing to develop a relationship with people.”

Another area of service for Trost is his work with the school district and the community’s children.

He began by joining the finance committee of the old high school district, and then was invited to run for election to the school board of the consolidated district.

He eventually decided he had enough time to serve the school district by taking some time away from his family and retiring from his full-time job as a database manager but not leaving his part-time job as a farmer. He was appointed to an empty school board seat first, but then had to undergo the rigors of an election campaign. Of course, he won the election.

“I have found that serving on the school board (for more than two terms) is very satisfying, very charitable,” he said.

Representing the board, Trost is proud to have worked with district planners while they formed a charter school and while they instituted a health care center at Sandy High School.

In just a few months, the Trosts will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary — no doubt, surrounded by family members that include his sister, soon moving to Beaverton, and their son and daughter-in-law as well as two grandchildren, all living in Sherwood.

Nowadays, Trost’s wife, who is likely the only female long-distance ultra-light pilot in the U.S., is still working as a consultant.

Trost’s retirement consists of volunteering in the community and caring for what he calls their “mini-farm” on Marmot Road.

Drive east on Marmot and look for the sheep and goats; Trost is likely to be nearby.