Beloved SHS custodian retires

Louis Trott retires after nearly 25 years in the district

Louis Trott, left, is all smiles with SHS Principal Matt Petermann. Source: Susan Lamoreau
By Spartan Times Staff

SANFORD, Maine — An unsuspecting Louis Trott walks into the Performing Arts Center from stage right. He’s following Principal Matt Petermann and Trott’s lovely wife, Clara, is not far behind him. As he steps into the light, the crowd of SHS and SRTC teachers and staff erupt in a standing ovation. Hoots and hollers, whistles and cheers, smiles – and even some tears – fill the room.

After retiring unexpectedly last year due to health issues, Trott finally gets the send-off he never wanted (but the rest of us needed). Trott has been a beloved custodian in our district for more than 25 years, but even more so, a dear – and feisty – friend. The school hasn’t been the same since he left.

SHS Principal Matt Petermann hands Trott the mic. Trott looks down, covers his eyes, unable to say a word. His hand, holding the mic, drops down to his side.

The room fell silent, but there was an unexpected comfort in it. We understood what the lack of words – a rarity for Trott, I might add – meant. The feeling is mutual – gratitude, happiness and sadness all in one. 

Trott could most often be recognized in our hallways in his signature red Sanford polo, baggy khaki pants hanging low from the weight of his heavy key ring, and his thick-rimmed glasses. In between his hefty to-do list, you’d often find him joking with students and staff, or you’d hear him whistling down the halls. 

But Trott isn’t known for his uniform. He’s known, respected and loved for the man underneath; his warm disposition, his sharp sense of humor and occasional slippage of swear words. And, most special of all, his undeniable relationships with students and staff.

He carries not only a “can-do” attitude, but a “will-do” attitude, and his track record shows it. He’s reliable and dependable. And as a person and colleague, he lived and worked with integrity and care.

Paul Auger, long-time history teacher, shares his fondness of Trott, “I don’t know that you’ll find someone with more integrity than this guy. Whether someone was watching or not, he always did things the right way… He did what needed to be done – come after hours, at night, early in the morning, he always made sure we were taken care of.”

With the help of SRTC, a special memento was given to Trott: a welded structure of a wrench, a shovel and a plunger. Trott jokingly tries to smack Petermann with it.

Shortly after, a voice from the crowd yells, “We need maintenance subs!” 

“Don’t call me!” he quickly retorts. Laughter erupts.

Despite the wise-cracks and laughter, there was a layer of sadness in the room. Tears drip down smiling cheeks. A few hands reach over their hearts, the lumps in our throats grow larger. We aren’t ready to say goodbye. It’s never an easy thing to do, but we all must eventually.

Trott, still emotional, looks down. Teachers applaud. Then, in true fashion, he breaks the tension by bringing the mic around to his behind — implying an amplified fart.

After the laughter subsided, Trott was able to get out, “You’ve been so great.”

But greatness is synonymous with Trott. He’s the kind of guy everyone has a story about. We all relish in his presence, eager to catch up with him and share warm memories with others of “that one time Louis…” 

So, as we said our thank yous and reluctant goodbyes, staff members at SHS were given the moment to appreciate and share all the wonderful things he has done for us, and share their “Louis stories”. 

Some, naturally, are hilarious: 

Matt Petermann, Principal, SHS: 

“I was hired in fall 2003, I can still remember some of the first people that I met. I didn’t have a classroom as a new teacher, so I was in the cubicle. Everyone pointed me to Louis, saying, ‘he’ll find you a file cabinet and get you set up.’ So, the first thing I do is have Marguerite [Smith] call Louis. 

“He finds me, and the first words he says are, ‘What do you want?’ I gave my actual introduction — you know, told him my name, my quick story, and his response was: ‘Come with me.’ 

“Within minutes, he found one, and I had to carry it with him down the hallway, during school, when there were kids around – timed it just right with passing time…another memory was learning Louis needed to take care of a clogged toilet. Suddenly, on my walkie-talkie at full volume, I hear Louis yell, ‘Mike! Get the stick!’”

Other stories, also naturally, show Trott’s compassion and thoughtfulness for those he worked with.

Danika Whitehouse, Spanish Teacher: 

“Many years ago at the old school, there was major vandalism done in my portable. When I say major, I mean they took food and put it into my file cabinets – protein shakes, they put things into the electronics, took the fire hydrant off the wall, sprayed everything in the room. I had gotten a phone call warning me what it’ll look like as I’m driving into school. Nothing you can expect, worse than I imagined. I was out of my room for a week. Every day I’d go by and check-in. He was scrubbing with toothbrushes, on hands and knees – not just Louis, but the whole maintenance staff – he led by example and raised up those people around him because of his level of hard work, diligence, and integrity. At the end of the week, I walked into my room and there were flowers for me. Why did I get flowers? There was such a thought put into, ‘Welcome back to your room.’ I’ll never forget that there were flowers for me after being displaced in my room. That tells you what kind of person he is.”

More stories flow through the staff, sprinkled with laughter and tears. Peterman again hands Trott the mic to say a few words. Unable to do so, Louis’ wife, Clara – a true partner and symbol of love and support – stepped in.

“We want to thank everybody for all your good wishes, gifts, cards,” she said. “We were so overwhelmed at the beginning that you all cared so much. And he’s having a hard time since his heart attack… he’s been very emotional. I can’t thank you enough. There are not enough words and ways to thank you for what you’ve done for us.”  

The thanks and gratitude are all ours. Louis, we wish you a well-deserved and relaxing retirement. We miss you – and will continue to – more than you could know.

Share your stories of Louis in the comments!

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