The earth shifted just a bit on Sunday, March 1, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. as Arnold Roger Truax stepped out of this life and into the next. He was a man of gravity, and not just because of his 6’4” 350 lb. frame. His outgoing personality, amazing smile and love for others drew even complete strangers to him. He loved meeting anyone new and learning their life story!
Roger was born to Samuel Strall and Dena Eloise (Phelps) Truax on June 15, 1938. He entered the world at a robust 12 lbs. and was their first and only child, although a step-sister (Marilyn Montgomery) and aunt (Bonnie) were raised with him.
Roger spent his grade school years in Springfield, Oregon, then became a standout athlete in four sports at Seaside (Oregon) High School, graduating in 1956. He attended Linfield College on a basketball/football scholarship, graduating with a bachelor’s in business and a math minor in 1960. After college, he was recruited and got letters of invitation from at least five pro football teams. He was by far the biggest player on Linfield’s first NW Conference Championship team in 1957, losing only one (out of division) game to a Cal Poly team led by John Madden and seven other future pros.
At Linfield, Roger met the love of his life, Florence Joan Wood. They married Aug. 24, 1957, and had baby, Robyn, 10 months later.
Life was not easy at that point, so Roger took a job managing Eola Village, a migrant labor camp near Salem, Oregon (1958-60), while they were finishing college. He always said that was where he got his REAL education! Eola Village provided a place to live and a small stream of income. Roger supplemented their table by digging clams commercially and hunting and fishing at every opportunity — labors of love that continued the rest of his life.
He worked at Foster’s Sporting Goods in Portland (1960-62), and at the Oregon State Employment Services (1962-63), where he was able to get Flo a job at a bottle plant in Portland that paid far better than most jobs at the time.
Soon they moved to Seaside, so Roger could work for his dad’s roofing business. That ended one day in late 1963, when he stepped backwards over a wire and into a fresh bucket of hot tar that had just come out of the boiler. While recovering, Roger realized that he would have to start earning a living with his brain rather than his body.
In early 1965, he took a job at Wauna mill near Knappa, Oregon, in the accounting and payroll department. Quickly tiring of the commute from Seaside, he and Flo started looking for a place in the Knappa area. Their one priority was waterfront property.
In late 1965, they purchased a worn-out 1900s house with 18 acres on the bank of the Columbia River in Knappa, which the family still owns today. He spent two years remodeling the broken-down house before it was livable enough to occupy with 9-year-old Robyn and newborn Tony in 1967. Roger spent the next 40 years doing various remodels and property projects that turned it into the spectacular place that it is today.
Almost as soon as they moved to the farm, Roger was recruited and hired to become a State Farm Insurance agent back in Seaside. His commute reversed, he made the best of the Astoria traffic from 1970-1981, then became an Agency Manager 1981-1997, and expanded his driving from Tillamook to Woodland, Washington. Meanwhile, in 1976, they adopted 18-month toddler, Christopher, and Flo immediately found herself pregnant with Melissa.
Roger continued as a manager until the company made major changes in 1997. He finished his career as an agent in Astoria 1997-2000. He retired from State Farm at 61 years old and he and Flo were finally able to feed their love for travel full-time.
They bought a trailer and made the rounds each winter from Astoria to Cabo, Cancun, Palm Desert and other points across the Western U.S. When that was too limiting, they took cruises and flights, visiting many other countries.
In March of 2015, health issues forced Rog and Flo to leave the farm and move into assisted living near their son Tony’s State Farm agency. Roger spent his final five years making his gravity felt at Heritage House in Buckley, Washington.
A memorial potluck celebration will be held at the farm on June 13, from 12 p.m. until the last story is told. All are welcome with RSVPs to Melissa Reid at 503-936-0638.
Flo passed away on June 7, 2019. Roger is survived by his four children, Robyn Louise Truax, Anthony Strall Truax, Christopher Dean Truax and Melissa Violet Reid, as well as six grandkids. It’s very possible that Heaven shifted a bit as he stepped into the presence of our Maker!