College community pays respects to one of its gems

Kyra Salem, 10, stepped up to the microphone with determination and tears in her eyes. “Everyone tells me I act just like my mom, and everyone keeps telling me to cry. I am going to keep on crying until I’m with my mom up there singing and dancing again,” she said amid sobs.

Castleton State College celebrated the life of Koran Salem Trombley on Feb. 19, 2010, three days after she passed away unexpectedly after a long battle with cancer. It was held in the Campus Center and there were people lined up out the doors and overflowing into the lobby. One after another, people who knew her took the microphone to tell of their favorite memories with Trombley.

There was not a dry eye in the room as songs and memories were shared. From Castleton professors to students to family members, the common thread was the love that they all clearly have for her.

Trombley was born on May 6, 1970 and resided in Fair Haven with her four children: Adam, 17, Zachary, 15, Kyra, her stepdaughter, Abby, 12, and husband Chuck.

There are only so many titles that can be given to someone who impacts everyone’s lives around them. Trombley was one of those people that could not be pigeonholed with one label.

She was a Castleton non-traditional student who came to this campus with a mission to leave her mark and ended up working here after she graduated. Professor Thomas Conroy handled her registration when she came to Castleton State College.

“She must have been 31 or 32 when she came here. She was really just good at anything she did. She was always one of the best students in my classes,” said Conroy.

One of her best attributes, as far as coming to college as a non-traditional student, was that Trombley had the ability to get along in class with the 19 and 20-year-olds and also maintain a level of maturity that comes along with being an older student, according to Ennis Duling.

Duling worked with Trombley in the communications office and interacted with her on a daily basis.

“She really was a wonderful employee, but her best attribute was that she really was such a great mom,” said Duling.

Trombley’s desk had numerous things on it like her framed Castleton diploma on the wall, Class of 2005, Magna cum laude, a camcorder that she was known to use all around campus, a postcard from Key West from a wonderful vacation with her husband, a photo of her recent wedding on her desktop of her computer, and last but not least, all the random knick knacks of being a mom. Photos of her children surrounded Trombley as she worked, and cards from Kyra graced the walls.

“There wasn’t a single day that went by that Koran didn’t come into and talk about how much she loved you guys,” said student Karen Trudeau to her family at the celebration.

Trudeau worked as an intern with Trombley in the Communications office and had known her for almost three years. Their desks were right next to each other.

“I would describe Koran as someone who found beauty, pleasure, and fun in almost every facet of life. She was someone who cared deeply for her friends, family, and especially her children. She was unfailingly kind and supportive, and she worked very very hard at her job,” said Trudeau.

Professor Roy Vestrich also had the opportunity to have Trombley in his classes and work alongside with her in the communication department.

“I first met Koran in my media writing class. The first assignment I give students is to write a story based on a moment of change in their own lives. Over the years I have had heard many memorable stories on subjects ranging from the silly to the tragic- and most stories tend to range between four and six pages. Koran came in with a story that must have run over 20 pages and involved the most compelling blend of international intrigue, domestic drama and the heartfelt passions of a mother. I can’t talk about the specifics, but needless to say it was one of the most engaging stories I, or other students, heard. I tried encouraging her over the years to turn it into a longer account or film script,” said Vestrich.

Trombley did start writing her memoir. She was in the process of piecing it together. Duling wants to, one day, have Trombley’s memoir in the library so her legacy can live on in writing, as well as all of her video work that she had completed.

Video work was Trombley’s passion. She had a niche for getting right into the grime and tedious work that came along with shooting. Professor Robert Gershon had Trombley in his Video 1 class and remembers her having a special ability for making fake blood the best out of anyone. Ketchup and Karo syrup was the secret, he said.

“One specific thing I remember is shooting video with her during that Screen Drama course. She had to direct a scene we shot up on North Street in the spider filled basement of a 150-year-old house. She was a trooper and just wanted to get the acting and lighting right no matter how many spiders might land on her. The rest of the crew and the actors didn’t share that view, but, as usual, Koran had enough energy and good will to bring to the project, and that carried the day,” remembers Gershon.

Trombley’s memory lives on throughout our campus. She touched numerous lives and her character will live on throughout her family’s lives.

“Koran’s range was huge. It’s hard to think that anyone she met didn’t recognize her as special, vibrant, upbeat, and a general delight to be around. She made people around her happy. A chance meeting with her made your day better,” said Gershon.

Donations to the Slate Valley Teen Center may be made in her memory at SVTC, 327 Scotch Hill Road, Fair Haven, Vt. 05743.

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