Taking Up the Torch

November 26, 2012 § 5 Comments

“I am obliged to contribute if I care enough.” – Trenton Perrott, 1957-2012, in an excerpt from his personal journal, September-October.

How often have you attended an event and felt inspired by a speaker only to do nothing as a result?

So often we feel momentarily engaged and then return to our routine, not motivated to make a change. The words above are ones I won’t ever forget. They will assuredly make a difference for me and others.

Sadly, I could not receive the message directly from the author.

On Saturday, they were delivered by Trenton’s brother, Dale, as Grande Prairie celebrated the life of a significant community builder, particularly in the arts and culture and business sectors.

Dale went on to say that Trenton, who lost his two-year battle with cancer earlier this month, had it backwards – that he did care a lot about many things – his community, country and family topped the list.

Trenton touched people in many different ways. As a fellow manager in my service area at the City of Grande Prairie, we had regular interaction, particularly since he oversaw the website as well as advocacy initiatives and I’m Manager of Marketing and Communications.

I always appreciated Trenton’s thirst for strategic planning, his passion for history and politics, and his vision for creating change. He was a mentor to colleagues at all levels and got the most out of those around him with his quiet leadership.

Why will the words from Trenton’s journal make a difference to me? He walked the talk. Trenton was a model of courage and class as he dealt with his disease. He lived his final months with a level of dignity I’ve never witnessed.

Even in his waning time with us, Trenton continued to do as much work as he could. He encouraged me and others to do more in the workplace and within the community.

In August, he invited me to attend a Rotary meeting with him. Not just any Rotary meeting. A long-time Rotarian, Trenton was one of the initiators of the new After Five club in Grande Prairie. He was even willing to pay my membership.

We had a good, long chat before the meeting. I always cherished my discussions with Trenton. As I learned on Saturday, I would not be alone in often finding myself in long, drawn-out but rewarding talks with Trenton.

Unfortunately, all my dialogue with Trenton was contained to the workplace so I didn’t get a chance to share any of the wine and scotch for which he is renowned for enjoying.

It would be the last time we spoke at any length. I could tell there wasn’t much time left for Trenton, but that didn’t stop him from sharing even more ideas and demonstrating how much he cared about his workplace and colleagues.

Of course, he didn’t stop there. Trenton arranged for me to speak to the Rotary group in October about the City’s Citizen Engagement Program, activateGP, just a few weeks before the initiative launched on Nov. 5.

I wish he could’ve been there to hear me speak in more than spirit and attend the kick-off event, too.

But he knew how important this initiative is to me as the project leader and the municipality. It ties in with so much he believed in – community involvement, partnerships, connecting people, and making the place you live a better place to be.

And new features on the new website Trenton so much wanted to see introduced last February contribute to involving residents. I’m thrilled he and his team saw that project through to fruition.

I don’t know that I will follow through and join Rotary at this time with two other significant volunteer positions already on my plate. I do know that I will be even more driven to make a difference in the community.

And I think that is all Trenton really expected of me – that I would realize I had more within me.

I was honoured to be asked to assist in the production of the video for Saturday’s tribute. In the process, I had the opportunity to speak for a few minutes with Joanne, Trenton’s wife, another example of class and strength.

She shared with me that Trenton had spoken of how he had unfinished work to do.

I assured her that others would pick up the torch.

I will be one of them. Rest in peace, Trenton. Your legacy will live on.

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§ 5 Responses to Taking Up the Torch

  • Karna says:

    That was a really nice tribute David. Thank you for sharing that.

  • Simone Isser says:

    The good work with good people always gets the special place in our heart. A very touchy tribute David.

  • What a wonderful tribute to a very special co-worker – thanks David!

  • Carmen says:

    Hard to put in words how much Trenton meant to his close friends and his Community…you have said them well. picking up the Torch is what he would have liked most.Those long talks will be sadly missed but the experiences and projects together will be in our memories forever…in the end that is all have hold on too…Servant Leadership , friendship,love and understanding comes to mind when I think of Trenton, god knows we need more of his kind of leadership in the world… We often talked about being too worried about being “politically correct “than doing what was the ” right thing to do” ( which may needed to be more left to centre) Trenton we will miss you but as I write these words ,on a small island in Thailand, somehow I feel you can hear them…cheers my friend this is not the end of the Journey.

  • Shawn Tucker says:

    Trenton was an inspirational leader with a genuine heart. His torch will burn long into the night, tended by the hands of those he inspired.

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