A Life Lived: Gary Trivette had a passion for fishing, helping people

Published 9:26 am Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Gary Trivette was born to fish. He had fished all his life, picking up the hobby from his parents, Ivan and Agnes Trivette, who took him fishing when he was just a young boy. He continued fishing as long as he was able, often taking family and friends on their first fishing trip.

Gary died Oct. 1 and was laid to rest Oct. 4 at Happy Valley Memorial Park. He was buried in one of his favorite fishing shirts and a Bass Pro cap. His pallbearers also wore Bass Pro caps and a fishing shirt from Gary’s wardrobe.

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His widow, Freada, said each spring Gary went on a deep-sea fishing trip to the ocean, catching “cooler after cooler” of fish which he prepared and served at a summer fish fry at Roan Mountain State Park. “It was an annual thing with him. He enjoyed doing it for family and friends,” she said.

Locally, his favorite fishing hole was Watauga Lake. “He knew every good fishing place on the lake. He took many of his students at Hampton High School on their first fishing trip and fishing on his bass boat,” Freada shared.

When he was teaching at Hampton, he and teacher-friends, John Hyatt and Jim Rouse, organized a fishing club. They took a group of the kids fishing, which was very successful. Before they left the lake to come home, Gary realized that none of the students had fishing licenses. They counted the fish, and made sure, should the game warden come around, there were no more than 21 fish — seven each for him and the other two teachers, the limit they count catch. “He loved to tell that story,” Freada said with laughter of her own.

Gary had competed in numerous fishing tournaments and had a collection of trophies and ribbons to show how good he was at the sport.

Gary was a graduate of Hampton High School and a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was a sergeant in the transportation division and traveled to Saigon every day to pick up supplies for the troops. “While there he came in contact with Agent Orange, which led to medical problems later. For the past few years he had suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and in 2014 was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease,” Freada shared.

Gary was a Reserve Deputy with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department. During the school year he worked as a safety officer at Hampton High School and in the summer worked with the Roan Mountain Work Camp inmate work program.

When he was 55 years old he went back to school at East Tennessee State University and received his teaching degree. “He and our youngest daughter went to college at the same time. Earlier he had attended Steed College at night and worked his day job,” said Freada.

He taught drafting and engineering at Hampton High until his retirement in 2008.

“Gary was one of the most generous and compassionate people on this earth. When he worked at the high school, he came home for lunch as we lived near the school. But every week he would run through $20 to $30. He would get it in quarters, and hand it out to the kids to get a Mountain Dew or Pepsi. It was not unusual after he retired to run into a former student, who would share that when they needed a quarter or two to get a soda, Gary gave it to them,” Freada said.

She further noted that when Gary worked with the Carter County inmate program during the summer, he did the same thing. “Every week he bought sodas and a bag of candies to share with the inmates. He showed them much kindness, believing that everyone deserved to be treated with respect and shown kindness,” Freada said.

In addition to fishing, Gary enjoyed fast cars and camping with his buddies at Roan Mountain State Park. He also liked to race motorcycles.

When he came home from Vietnam, he bought himself a new car — a 1968 Nova, and he used that car to get a date with Freada, and soon after her 18th birthday they were married. “When I was a senior at Hampton, he used to drive that Nova up to the school and circle the parking lot every day. He drove all the girls crazy with that car,” Freada shared.

However, 49 years later he often joked, “I still have that same car and the girl I married,” Freada shared.

“I could have not asked for a better husband or a better father for our children. And, he absolutely adored our grandchildren,” Freada said.

Gary was a member of Pleasant Beach Baptist Church. He was baptized by an old friend, former pastor Bobby Stout, and with his grandson, Braylon.

I’m sure that knowing Gary’s love of fishing, he would agree with Tom Brokaw that “If fishing is religion, fly fishing is high church.”

Gary was known to many of his friend as “Lum Gum,” a nickname he picked up in high school because he had to have dentures, due to iron medication he had taken.

However, to so many he was known simply as “friend” or the man “who took me fishing” or the teacher “who gave me a quarter or two for a Mountain Dew.”