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Meet Tony Trumbly

Written by Linda Kirkpatrick on .

He’s lived here most of his life – starting school at Wilmot Elementary and attending junior high in a building where the library now stands – and long enough to remember four-digit phone numbers in Evergreen. After college, law school and four years in the US Army, Tony made a conscious decision to return to the town where he grew up.

His love of the outdoors and all it had to offer made Evergreen a no-brainer. As an environmental attorney, he looked at the outdoors with a keen eye, knowing its vulnerabilities as well as all it had to offer those who appreciated it. His goal in the legal field was to retire early enough to enjoy more of what was within easy reach.

“Evergreen was wonderful to me and my family. It was a beautiful place to live where neighbors were helpful to each other and almost always there to help,” Tony explains. He grew up knowing volunteer work was very important.

Understanding the outdoors from a variety of perspectives makes it a natural for a charitable sort of guy to give back during his retirement by pairing up with Alpine Rescue Team (ART). But the average person doesn’t know that “volunteering” for ART is a bit more challenging than the average volunteer stint. The search-and-rescue team that works with the sheriffs in Clear Creek, Gilpin and Jefferson counties is a demanding operation physically, mentally and monetarily. A prospective volunteer must apply for membership and go through extensive physical and technical training over the course of a year and then hope to be selected. Only about a third of each bi-annual class of prospective members of 12-15 makes the grade. A good part of the evaluation for membership is based on one’s desire to contribute to the community.

Giving takes on new meaning for an Alpine volunteer.

Once selected, a member can expect to spend about $1,000/year of personal funds on training and equipment. Often many of the 50+ missions/year a volunteer goes on dips into personal time off from work, at a minimum personal time away from family. It takes dedication.

A mission could be two hours or two days on a moment’s notice.

Two of Tony’s missions with Alpine stand out in his mind – both “feel-good” experiences with good results. Many are not. One was helping to find a four-year-old boy in southern Jefferson County. It was a training night for Alpine, so there were 45 members readily mobilized, constituting a significant part of the 100-person search party. The boy was found safe within an hour.

The other story is one of a 92-year-old woman who’d wandered away looking for pine boughs post-Thanksgiving. “She would not have survived the night,” Tony remembers, even thought she’d recognized she was in trouble and had found a place to spend the night, covering herself with leaves.

ART is comprised of about 60 active members who “work in the field” plus another 20 or so associate members who offer technical specialties necessary to operations. The team averages about 110-115 missions each year with mid-summer being the busiest time. “Two years ago we had 30+ missions in 28 days,” Tony says. He, personally averages 55-60 such expeditions in a 12-month period.

“We’re here to help people having a bad day in the mountains,” is the slogan used by members of the team.

Tony has served on the board of directors two of the past five years since he’s been involved with ART. Much of his focus has been on acquisition and maintenance of rescue vehicles and equipment. The organization is dependent on individual donations and grants for equipment from the respective Sheriffs’ departments with which ART is affiliated.

Having a partner who’s supportive of the demanding volunteer commitment that is synonymous with Alpine Rescue is not only important, it’s necessary, Tony points out. It’s not uncommon for the partner to be left entertaining guests or feeding the animals when the volunteer is called out in an emergency. “The Team recognizes the importance of family and work,” says Tony, explaining that ART does not want members to neglect either. Tony’s wife, Pam Hinish, is a good example of a supportive spouse.

He, in turn, is supportive of her activities in the community – the Garden Club and the Evergreen Recreation and Parks Foundation’s fundraisers for the special needs population and specific needs of the park and rec district. You might spot him selling tickets, setting up for an event like Oktoberfest or cleaning up afterward.

Over the years Trumbly has been active with the Sierra Club – for 10 years before his becoming an environmental attorney with the Colorado Attorney General’s office where he worked for 12 years prior to retirement. As a Sierra Club member he worked to effect legislation related to conservation and still enjoys working on trail maintenance when he can squeeze in the time.

The Evergreen Rodeo Association utilized his skills and energy for about five years, tapping him to be a board member for two of those years. Twice he and Pam were co-directors of the Rodeo Parade.

The two enjoy hiking, biking and camping in the Rockies as well as snorkeling and sailing in the Virgin Islands. At their home west of Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space Park, they care for an elderly horse and two donkeys, Tony describes as “useless pasture ornaments – but we love them.”