Longtime Claremont resident Alice Trask died on July 2, 2012 following a period of hospice care. She was 86.
Born Alice Agnes Ackerman in Chicago, Illinois, Mrs. Trask often reminisced about riding the streetcars all around the Windy City in her youth. On snowy school days, she’d hop a streetcar and head to class. Seated alphabetically in grammar school, with A.A.A. initials, she always occupied the front left desk.
Mrs. Trask’s father, Alfred, was born in Germany and came to the US at a young age when adopted by the Ackerman family. Her mother, Anna Therese Pedersen, was a Chicago native of Norwegian descent. Among Mrs. Trask’s favorite childhood memories was waking up in her upstairs bedroom to the wonderful aromas of fresh pastries and coffee wafting up from her parents’ bakery below.
“The streetcar stopped right in front of their bakery, and people would jump off, run in, buy their pastry and coffee, run back out and off they went!” shared Mrs. Trask’s daughter, Denise Free.
From a young age, Mrs. Trask was taken to the opera and loved to save her money to buy tickets to the old Chicago Opera House.
In 1944, Mrs. Trask moved with her family to Alhambra when her father took a bakery job with Jurgensens in Pasadena. The next year, she met Andrew William Trask, the literal boy-next-door who had just returned from World War II. They married in May 1946 and moved to Adelanto where he pursued his teaching career. Having grown up in a metropolis, Adelanto was a new experience for Mrs. Trask, and she would tell tales of living in a small, desolate town with animals she had never seen before: checking her young daughter’s crib for scorpions and other desert creatures was a must.
In 1953, Mrs. Trask and her husband and children moved to Claremont, paying $12,500 for their home. With nostalgic affection, her son and daughter remember playing kick-the-can and hide-and-seek in the orange groves.
“She loved living in Claremont and raising us here,” said Ms. Free.
In 1959, Mrs. Trask became part of a small group of families interested in having a Lutheran church in Claremont. After 3 years of filing paperwork, purchasing the land and completing a charter, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church became official on April 8, 1962. In the beginning, services were held at Sycamore and Condit elementary schools. Within the first year, many families joined the church and, “as they say,” said Mrs. Free, “a church is only as strong as its foundation with faith and trust in God.”
At the church’s 50th-anniversary celebration in April, Mrs. Trask was honored as a charter member.
“She loved her church. What a legacy!” her daughter remarked.
Following a 1963 divorce, Mrs. Trask raised her children as a single mother. In 1969, she decided to follow her lifelong dream to become a nurse and enrolled in Citrus College’s licensed vocational nurse program. Upon graduation one year later, she began working for Dr. Gerald Rude in Claremont, where she became known by many as “Nurse Alice” over the approximately 16 years she was there. It was not uncommon for her to run into people years later who remembered her as “Nurse Alice.”
In retirement, Mrs. Trask began studying genealogy, focusing on her Norwegian heritage. Through her research, she located some Norwegian cousins and, in 1984, traveled alone to Norway to meet them.
“This was one of her wonderful memories,” said her daughter, noting that she maintained contact with her cousins until her death.
One of Mrs. Trask’s favorite activities was reading, so she was thrilled when offered a part-time job at a Claremont Village bookstore, remembered as Chapter One Books. She delighted in the many interesting people who patronized the store as well as the rare and out-of-print books themselves.
“She was like a kid in candy store—so many books!” said Ms. Free.
Inheriting the interest and talent from her father, Mrs. Trask loved to bake cakes and cookies. Her specialty was carrot cake, for which she did everything by hand and from scratch. Family remembers that her cream cheese frosting was delicious—always smooth, never lumpy. Christmas cookies were also a yearly tradition.
“She baked with so much love and care, the old-fashioned way,” her daughter commented. “Her Christmas cookies are a wonderful memory for anyone who knew her. It was almost unforgivable if she showed up during the holidays without her cookies.”
A dedicated volunteer at Pomona Valley Hospital, Mrs. Trask earned her 3000-hour pin for her service. Every Monday for more than 12 years, she volunteered in the surgery waiting room, getting there at 7 a.m. to make coffee and set up for the families who would be waiting for their loved ones. Even after she recovered from open-heart surgery, she returned to volunteering, serving as often as she could.
“Her love of the people, the medical field and nursing inspired those around her,” commented her daughter.
Mrs. Trask also adored animals, and every shopping list had “bird seed” on it. She kindly welcomed the stray cats and dogs that found their way to her home.
“If they didn’t have anywhere soft and dry to stay for the night, they could find comfort on her patio,” Ms. Free said.
Most important to Mrs. Trask was her family. She often said how blessed she felt to be a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
“She loved all of us so much, unconditionally,” said her daughter. “I bet each of her grandchildren would say that she made them feel as if they were her favorite. She had so much love.”
Mrs. Trask is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Denise and Greg Free of Alta Loma; her son Jeffrey Trask of Claremont; her 6 grandchildren, Zachary Impastato and his wife Alanna, formerly of Guam and now residing in Westport, Washington, Aaron Impastato of Alta Loma, Jacob Impastato of the US Coast Guard stationed in San Diego, Kaysia Hildebrand and her husband Joe of Kodiak, Alaska, Stephanie Fiske and her husband Matt of Temecula and Jacqueline Burns and her husband Eric of Seattle, Washington; and her 9 great-grandchildren with one on the way. She was preceded in death by her brother, Alfred R. Ackerman of LaSalle, Illinois.
A celebration of life was held on Sunday, July 8, 2012 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.