Today, the Idaho Statesman reported on the untimely passing of Tom Trusky, a Boise State University professor. In the sidebar as well as in the comments, former students and colleagues of Trusky's have left their memories of him and openly remarked on his influence in their lives."The original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate."
-- François-René de Chateaubriand
(Le génie du Christianisme)
Tom Trusky symbolized something I have always thought to be a highlight of Idaho's institutions of higher learning--long-term faculty who leave an indelible mark on Idaho's university communities. Everything I have read about Tom Trusky today has only bolstered the positive impression I had of him personally.
The Statesman article quoted Michelle Payne, chairwoman of the BSU English Department, as she reflected on Trusky's email style. Payne said that Trusky's emails, personal and professional, "were funny, mostly sarcastic and filled with all kinds of allusions." Payne went on to say "[i]t wasn't e-mail; it was art." As someone who received one of those incredible emails, I couldn't help but chuckle at Payne's statement.
I had the opportunity to work with Trusky while I was an editorial assistant for the state history journal. The state history journal was in a major transition period as Idaho Yesterdays went online and a new publication, Idaho Landscapes, was created. In the middle of this transition, after Mr. Trusky had submitted a manuscript that was one of the most entertaining and interesting articles I read as an assistant/intern with the publication, Trusky left the country. I can't remember where he went or why he was going, but I remember his email informing me of the trip and telling me everything I could possibly need to know about his article should he not return. It was hilarious! Trusky's article for Idaho Landscapes centered on Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets, clay tablets over 4,000 years old, that represented the oldest examples of writing in Idaho. Trusky returned from his trip, his "Idaho iPods" piece was published, and the entire exchange was unfortunately the only opportunity I had to work with him.
The fact that I remember Trusky's email today just as clearly as I did the day I received it, speaks volumes to how impressed I was by Trusky. That I, at the time a student at another university, was so impacted by an exchange with a professor at another institution, also speaks to the great loss his own students must be feeling today. My thoughts are with his students, colleagues, friends, and partner, because I appreciated Tom Trusky's kindness and sense of humor just as they do.
Idaho's academic community has lost a true treasure. And there will never be another writer quite like Tom Trusky.