Steve Trost, a retired greenhouse manager and horticulturist at the University of St. Thomas, died on Jan. 22, 2023.
Trost was the greenhouse manager from 1980 until his retirement in September 2012.
Trost, who retired after 32 years of working within the St. Thomas community, earned his horticulture degree from Century College in 1947 and worked at Bachman's and some smaller greenhouses before coming to St. Thomas.
Trost retired due to a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa.
“The truth is – and I’ve known this for some time – I can only distinguish cloudy shapes,” Trost said at the time of his retirement. “I’ve been bumping into more things … As much as I hate to admit it, it’s time.”
At the university, Trost would plant, prune, weed and water plants while overseeing the greenhouse. “One of his most elaborate projects was a floral logo of St. Thomas (at Cleveland and Portland) – complete with the chalice. He planted the bottom with dusty miller, the flames in begonias, and the borders in purple petunias,” said Dave Nimmer.
“St. Thomas is a good learning environment,” Trost said. “Students understand St. Thomas is a place where people care for each other. It’s a spiritual place. I spent many a day listening to someone practice the organ in the chapel as I tended to the flowers beds outside.”
During Trost’s time at St. Thomas, he was known to connect and engage with as many people in the community as he could. In 2009, he hosted a lunch-and-learn session called “Gardening: Just for the Health of It!” in the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library, where his sister Lisa Dochniak was in St. Thomas’ Library Operations and also worked at the university for more than 30 years.
While Trost was not a teacher, he was still able to teach students about the greenhouse and the plants. “I love having lunch with the staff: you know, making small talk and telling stories. And I love working with the Biology Department staff and students,” Trost once said.
Trost had set up a program where biology majors would go to St. Mark’s Elementary School once a week to talk with seventh graders about flora and fauna.
In 2000, Trost’s daughter, Jennifer, graduated from St. Thomas as a sociology major. She later earned a certificate in leadership, technology, and innovation. While earning this certificate, Trost was a clinical faculty member at Dougherty Family College (DFC), teaching and mentoring DFC scholars while also helping them earn their associate degrees.
Trost’s sister, Lisa Dochniak, held her position at the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library for more than 31 years. During her time at St. Thomas, she was inducted into Quarter Century Club, in September 2013, in honor of celebrating her 25 years of service to St. Thomas.
Trost was preceded in death by his father (Walter Trost), mother (Hilda Donahue), and a nephew. He is survived by the love of his life – Nancy, son Bryan (Jen), daughter Jennifer (Tim Sheehey), and the other loves of his life – his grandchildren, in-laws, and his nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, at 9 a.m. at Assumption Church. The Mass and burial will follow after visitation at 10 a.m.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Steven Trost, please visit the condolences flower store.
In lieu of flowers, others can also donate to the Foundation Fighting Blindness, Inc. in memory of Steven Trost.