Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gertrude ‘Trudy’ Brohan

Longtime valley resident Gertrude "Trudy" Brohan has passed away of natural causes in Long Beach, Calif. She was 89.

Trudy came to Sun Valley in 1947 as a war bride of William "Bill" Brohan, who worked as maitre d'hotel of the Sun Valley Dining Room until 1966. She was a cashier in the Sun Valley Inn during her first years in Sun Valley. Trudy and Bill purchased the Jack Frost Motel in Ketchum on Fourth Street East and Walnut Avenue in the early 1950s. The structure and the house they built next to the motel remain there today. Trudy managed the motel while Bill maintained his position in Sun Valley.

In 1959, their only child, Frances, was born. Shortly after Frances' birth, Trudy and Bill sold the Jack Frost so Trudy could spend time raising their daughter. In 1966, Bill resigned from Sun Valley, and the couple took on the management and part ownership of the Tamarack Lodge on Sun Valley Road. With Bill's natural charm and Trudy's outgoing and friendly nature, they successfully ran the Tamarack until Bill retired in 1975.

Trudy and Bill were avid hikers and regularly explored the Boulder and Sawtooth Mountains. Bill was an expert fisherman and Trudy became an expert chef of the trout that Bill caught, inviting their numerous friends to "fish-fry" picnics complete with sheepherder potatoes and white table cloths on the picnic tables. They had an active and rich social life through their adult lives in Sun Valley. Beside the picnics they hosted was their famous Christmas Eve "Cheers" that they started at the Tamarack for guests away from home for the holidays. It grew to include not only Tamarack guests, but also their many friends who lived or visited Sun Valley over the holidays.

After Bill's retirement and after Frances went to college, during the colder Idaho months the couple journeyed to Mulege, Mexico, where they purchased a place on the Mulege River just a short distance from the Sea of Cortez. Bill learned to ocean fish on his ponga boat while Trudy crocheted, knitted, sewed and enjoyed other crafts. As in Sun Valley, they made a huge circle of friends and continued to host and attend many gatherings. They returned to Sun Valley for the holidays and the warmer summer months.

In 1990, Bill's health precluded returning to Mexico, so they sold their place and came to Southern California to be near Frances, who lives in Long Beach. They spent a winter in Carpinteria near Santa Barbara, continuing to return to Sun Valley for the summer. The following year they chose Goleta, Calif., for the winter, where in 1991, Bill passed away suddenly. Trudy continued to stay the winters in Goleta until 1999. She then moved for the winter months to Long Beach to be near her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. She purchased a home in the retirement community of Leisure World.

She saw Frances and her family daily during her time in Long Beach, attending her grandchildren's recitals, games, concerts and school activities.

During all her years in Sun Valley, Trudy was an active member of Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church. Her everyday routine was to attend the morning mass and then go on to the Gold Mine where she volunteered daily.

Trudy was born in La Calamine, Belgium, on March 26, 1922. She was the daughter of a prosperous café owner and butcher. After Belgium was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940, her two brothers where forced into the German army. Her younger brother, Joseph, disappeared during the war. It was when the Americans liberated Belgium that she met Bill Brohan, a naturalized German-American, who was stationed in her hometown. With Bill's numerous language skills, he was an officer of the U.S. Army in counter-intelligence. After the war, Bill wrote to Trudy from Sun Valley, which had been his home since 1937 and proposed. They were married Nov. 24, 1947, in Trail Creek Cabin.

Her health prevented her from returning to Sun Valley after 2007. Pacemaker surgery in 2009 gave her another few years of life before complications from congestive heart failure claimed her on Aug. 31.

Trudy leaves behind many dear friends, including the extended Donald Siegel family, for whom she was a second mother. In addition to her daughter, Frances, she leaves behind her beloved son-in-law Joe Gawel and two grandchildren, Isabelle (16) and Dominic (12).

A memorial mass is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Sun Valley. A reception will follow in the church hall.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made in her honor to the Hospice of the Wood River Valley, Box 4320, Ketchum, ID 83340.

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