Scott Michael Trager, a morning anchor at 9 & 10 News in Cadillac, Michigan, died unexpected Wednesday September 26, 2012. When news of his death was announced, it filled our family with great sadness.
I first met Scott when he began working at 9 & 10 News. In 1986, I started doing freelance photography work with the station, and after he began working there, we chatted now and then. I remember the day he told me he found out he and his beautiful wife, Connie, were expecting triplets. At the same time, my husband and I were expecting our first child, so we oftentimes talked about our pregnancies and what was ahead in the new role of parenthood.
Scott and I also shared the same birthday. Each year it was a joke of sorts to see who would be the first to wish the other a Happy Birthday (usually via email). I remember the time I sent him a box (via UPS) filled with homemade applesauce and salsa. It was in the middle of the winter. He called after opening the package and said “Don’t ever send a box of home canned goods in the winter. The jars froze, and there was salsa, applesauce and broken glass everywhere.” My (very) bad!
Scott talked about his kids with such pride. He loved those kids and they were his everything, the most important things to him. He was so proud of them for their individuality and their talents – sports, piano, reading, community involvement. One of their kids won a “Making a Difference” award for helping a fellow class member through a tough situation. He loved taking them to Tiger ball games and spending time together as a family. He talked of his wife and children with such enthusiasm, you couldn’t help but smile when he told the stories.
When my daughter began dating, I sent him a “HELP!” email. He said with a laugh, “oh boy, is this what I have to look forward to???”
I had the pleasure of working with Scott, along with Jim Lehocky, on a few media packages including “Seizing Opportunities,” about child abductions and how to prevent them. “Seizing Opportunities” won a Michigan Association of Broadcasters award that year. We were pretty proud of that. A couple of years later during a rather humorous conversation, I told him about an unopened jar of mayonnaise I found in my cupboard. It expired a couple of months earlier. Was it good? Should it be tossed? It prompted us to put together a feature about long lost food in the back of the cupboard and in the fridge, expiration dates and when you really need to toss it. We went back and forth about the package name, and finally he gave in and let me have my way – “Are You Ashamed Of Your Shelf?”
When news of Scott’s death became public, so many people across northern Michigan expressed their grief, sorrow, and sympathies to the family by leaving words of support and compassion on numerous message boards. Many people who had not had the opportunity to meet him in person said “Scott was like a member of our family. Waking up to him on 9 & 10 News and Michigan This Morning on television was our morning ritual.” Scott touched so many lives. He was a wonderful friend.
I will miss our ever-frequent emails, especially the ones that just said “GM” for “Good Morning.” I will miss the “Happy Birthday” emails. What I wouldn’t do to hear him say “News, Scott Trager” on the other end of the phone, again. I will miss seeing him on “MTM” and hearing his voice, and his excitement (and sometimes lack thereof!) of the Detroit Tigers. Magggliooooooo!!!!!
Like most of you reading this, I have lost so many close friends and family over the years. Death is a part of life, but it’s neither fun nor easy. Sometimes it’s really difficult to understand, sometimes there is no understanding it at all. Sometimes there is warning that a death is coming near, other times it’s sudden, tragic and unexpected. The very person sitting next to you today may not be here tomorrow, for any given reason. This should be a reminder to all of us to be kinder, more respectful and loving people. Make someone’s day today. Surprise them with a kind gesture or a simple compliment.
Scott’s death was a tragedy and shock. His profound love for his wife and children will live on. Some day, we will all see him again.
Until then, rest in peace my friend, my brother, and my daughter’s favorite home-plate umpire. You will be missed.
Photo above: Scott Trager at a benefit basketball game
Photo at right: Scott Trager umpired a game between Mancelona & McBain, Girls JV Softball, Summer 2011