Our ninth grade algebra teacher at Elco was Mr. Donald Troutman, and according to Suzanne Berger, he was related to us, Suzanne having previously informed me that she and I were some sort of distant cousins.
He turned out to be a pretty good teacher, I thought, as he often assigned projects that weren’t necessarily related to algebra, just so long as they had something to do with some branch of mathematics or at least numbers. I remember doing a chart on large numbers going from billion, trillion, quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion (that would be a one followed by 21 zeros), etc. all the way up to a googol, which was a one followed by 100 zeros.
Mr. Troutman (I call him that because although we were allegedly related, I never knew him from any family gatherings, just as a teacher) only stayed at Elco for that one year. My recollection is a bit hazy after that, as I recall he kept in touch with some of the other students (perhaps Suzanne) and I received some second hand reports. I know he joined the Peace Corps and went to Africa for a year, and I recall hearing that a subsequent class of his at some other school got a kick out of my big number chart.
Then perhaps 10 years later I ran into him in Reading of all places. I recognized him, but I’m not sure if he knew who I was. And 10 years after that, I spied him right here on the streets of Philadelphia. Once again our conversation was brief, as I’m not sure if he recognized me or if he was just being polite.
And that was pretty much it. My sister tells me that the year after I graduated he returned to Elco, and she had him as an algebra teacher. She wasn’t as impressed with his teaching skills as I was, but then she never liked math the way I did.
Donald B. Troutman was born on November 10, 1940 in West Reading. He was the fifth and youngest child of Frederick Elias Troutman and Tillie S. Bickel. He was a 1958 graduate of Wilson High School and a 1963 graduate of Kutztown State College. So his first year of teaching was at Elco.
From what I can gather, he lived a good part of his life in Sinking Spring. And I have been able to figure out that he was my third cousin, although how or if he was related to Suzanne remains a mystery, as I have not yet been able to trace a connection between her and me.
On August 19, 2009, Donald B. Troutman died of natural causes in ManorCare, West Reading when he was 68 years old.