Similar. But different. And yet complementary.
Bob and Louise Trump go together like peanut butter and jelly, like oil and vinegar, like air and water.
Like track and field.
The Trumps have been married for 61 years, and for more than half of that time they have shared a rather unique bonding experience. Not only has officiating track and field brought them closer as a couple, it has fulfilled and completed their lives together.
Now after four decades, the Trumps are walking away from their sport and hanging up their measuring tapes and clipboards, also together.
Residents of Newmanstown and actively involved in all sorts of athletic support activities at Elco, Bob and Louise Trump are officially retiring from track and field officiating. Some of their final duties as track and field officials will come over the next two weekends, at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, during the District Three and PIAA Championships.
“I liked just being around the kids,” said Bob, who at 82 has been officiating track and field for 36 years. “It’s like having a thousand grand-kids. I really enjoy it. Starting out, I was such a shy person. But you wouldn’t know that now. The kids don’t treat me like an old man. I know some of these kids better than I know my own grandchildren. It’s enjoyable seeing them compete.”
“I like talking to the kids, enjoying them,” said Louise, who at 82 has been officiating track and field for 33 years. “That and being around the other officials. It’s kind of like a family. You get to know them and you get to know the parents too. That’s very nice. And the coaches too.”
Over the years, the Trumps have become fixtures at the Lebanon County Track and Field Championships and the Lancaster-Lebanon League Meet, as well as districts and states. PIAA and USA Track and Field-sanctioned offiicials, Bob and Louise have also worked the Penn Relays and the Penn State Indoor Championships, in addition to their duties as top-notch cross country officials in the fall.
The Trumps also run and host the highly successful Bob and Louise Trump Junior High Track and Field Invitational at Elco annually.
“I’m having fairly large back troubles,” said Bob. “What I’m going to do is take photos. I’ll be around. But you shouldn’t be an official if you can’t see, can’t hear and can’t walk. Even Louise agrees that now is the time to retire. I love doing it. We’ve just got to get the young kids to do it.”
“It was a little more difficult for me,” said Louise. “Bob’s back has been bothering him for a long time. He said he was going to retire and I decided I was too. We’re going to retire, but we’re still going to track meets so he can take pictures.”
There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that Bob took Louise to a track and field meet on their first date. But it may be that he proposed to her on a javelin runway.
Actually, they met 65 years ago at the Fireman’s Carnival in Schaefferstown. Trump graduated from Lebanon High School, while Louise attended Schaefferstown High.
“It’s really kind of wonderful,” said Bob. “It takes some kind of special person to put up with me for 61 years.”
“We went out with a couple of friends and we just started dating,” said Louise. “The last 61 years have been very interesting. He was involved with track and field and I became involved.”
The Trumps actually became involved with officiating through their daughters, who competed in the sport when they were in high school.
“We just got interested in it,” said Bob. “I couldn’t be a basketball official. I couldn’t handle that many people on the floor. Track and field is something our kids did. It was something we knew about and it got more interesting all the time.
“Louise actually came with me to meets,” added Bob. “Most of the time we worked together. She’s a much better official than I am. I try to look intelligent, but she does the work. She is just naturally a good official. She’s very conscientious. She takes it more seriously than I do.”
“I used to go with him to track and field meets,” said Louise. “He would do the long jump and I would rake the pit. And then one day someone said to me, ‘Why don’t you become an official?’
“I enjoy being around the kids,” added Louise. “They get excited when they do well in their events. And it’s quite exciting to watch them do it.”
Contrary to popular belief, neither Louise or Bob has ever coached or taught at Elco. But they have officiated every Raider home regular-season track and field dual meet since they can remember.
“No, I tried to coach junior high shot putters one time,” said Bob. “I don’t think I had the right attitude. Normally, I don’t think officials and coaching go together. It’s kind of a conflict, to me.”
“You help the kids when you can,” said Louise. “You show them things like ‘the mark is where you first touched the sand.’ You explain things like that to them and make them understand.”
The Trumps are recognized around the state for their contributions to track and field officiating. Since 1982, Bob has maintained what has become the increasing popular website www.bobtrump.com, a haven for track and field aficionados.
“As I tell everyone, I’ll finally be able to sit at a stadium and watch an entire track meet,” said Louise, who has made her mark in field events, “and be able to appreciate the running events.”