Charles Trabold ’50, M ’53 fell in love with his first wife, the late Nancy Busco Trabold, for her love of life, art and colors. Now he and their three daughters — Marilyn, Lisa Trabold ’04 and Beth — are keeping Nancy’s memory alive by supporting a scholarship for an Oswego female student interested in the fine arts.
Nancy did not attend Oswego, but she and Charles shared many happy memories of campus. They met while working at Eastman Kodak when Charles returned from World War II. During Charles’ senior year at Oswego, they lived in Splinter Village, where they created “many warm memories,” playing with their dog in the yard behind the apartment and becoming close friends with their neighbors.
After graduation Charles went right into Oswego’s graduate program while he taught at Watertown High School and the couple lived at Camp Shady Shore during the summer. “That was the extension of the family feeling that pervaded in Splinter Village,” he said. Their first daughter was born then and Nancy would sew costumes for the parades Shady Shore families often had.
In the summer of 1955, while Charles worked on campus writing a book on industrial design, the couple served as a housemother and father for a residence full of graduate students.
“I know how to make everything,” said Charles, who still loves to spend time in his woodworking shop. “But I depended on her to pick out colors and she was very, very good at that.” She and Charles designed their home and everything in it. “She was a true partner,” he said.
A self-taught artist, Nancy was always making sketches, so when it came time to memorialize her with a scholarship, the family opted to designate one for a young woman interested in art.
The family is happy about the scholarship because Nancy will “still exist in a helping way for others,” said Charles. Nancy always preferred to help individuals rather than formal organizations “in a low-key way” — helping an ill person, taking care of someone’s children or providing food.
Charles was lucky enough to find another life partner and 11 years ago, at age 75, he married Dr. Rae Rohfeld. The two enjoy many things together, and share a love of flying kites.
Despite her love of life and beauty, Nancy would succumb at a young age to early onset dementia. Sept. 23 marked the 25th anniversary of her passing. “It was a devastating, devastating thing,” said Charles. His daughters saw their mother, a vibrant athlete and artist, decline.
“It’s kind of a counterpoint to that terrible time, knowing that there’s something that commemorates her vibrant life,” Charles said of the scholarship.
— Michele Reed
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