Dick Truax was one of those naturally-gifted people who poured every bit of himself into his efforts and was rewarded with good results.
Whether he was playing sports, playing golf, mentoring new firefighters at the Fayette Street station, or — later in his life — administering as the athletic director at St. Mary’s, Truax was all in, all the time.
“Dick was a hard worker,” said Pat Ryan, his brother-in-law and friend. “He always gave his best. It was always 100 percent, in everything he ever tried.”
Truax, who died last week at the age of 80, was a fierce competitor, Ryan said.
“I remember once, in 1956, he pitched a game for Connery Post 6 where he went all 19 innings,” he said. “It was over at Marblehead, and we won, 2-1. The guy he pitched against was Hilary Rockett, and he also went 19 innings.
“That was quite a thing in those days,” Ryan said.
Truax was a three-sport athlete at St. Mary’s — football, basketball and baseball. Of the three, baseball was his best, Ryan said.
“He was a great teacher of the game,” Ryan said. “As a pitcher and an outfielder, he had a lot to offer.”
And offer it he did. Truax coached Little League and later he and Ryan coached against each other for Lynn Babe Ruth — Truax for West Lynn National and Ryan for Lynn Shore.
They joined forces after their Babe Ruth days were over to coach together for Shoemaker Post 345 American Legion.
Along the way, they developed a close personal friendship too. They married sisters, and ended up being the best man at each other’s wedding.
“Until he moved permanently down to Florida,” Ryan said, “we did everything together.
“We used to go golfing together all the time. We even bought our golf clubs together at Raymonds, and Bob Ferrari sold them to us.”
When Harry Williams, the founder of East Lynn Pop Warner, stepped down, Truax was there to take his place. Once again, Ryan was by his side.
Also around at the time was Lynn Councilor-at-Large Buzzy Barton, whose experiences with Truax extended beyond sports.
“I knew him from sports,” Barton said. “I’d played on softball teams with him, and he was a great athlete. So we knew each other when I joined the fire department.
“He was great to me,” Barton said. “At the time, there were not a lot of blacks on the force. But he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes.
“If he saw me doing something, he might come up to me and say, ‘listen, there’s a much easier way to do this,’ and then show me. He looked out for me.”
Said Ryan, “I don’t doubt that for a second. He was that kind of a guy.”
Truax, who rose to the rank of captain, was the president of the local firefighters union when Barton came on board.
“If you were at a fire, that’s the guy you wanted to be with,” Barton said. “He was well respected on the job as a firefighter.”
Former Lynn Fire Chief James McDonald was a lieutenant when he and Truax worked together at Fayette Street.
“He was the type of guy — if you were working with him, all you had to do was watch him and you’d learn,” McDonald said. “You’d learn how to do things the right way, and how to keep yourself out of trouble.
“He was a very calming guy. Sometimes, you can get too excited, and that’s dangerous. But he did everything right in an emergency.”
Dick Callahan and Truax began working for the force on the same day in July 1972, and remained next to each other when the Broad Street station was closed and they moved to Fayette Street.
“He always worked at busy firehouses, and he was a great guy and a great house man,” said Callahan. “He never backed out or left a man alone. In short, he was a true Jake.”
After retiring on a disability, Truax — along with his wife, Barbara — ran Travel Agents International/All Ports Cruise Co. in Lynn. He also became athletic director at his alma mater, St. Mary’s, where he was an inaugural inductee in the Varsity Club in 2014.
“He did a very good job over there at a tough time for the school,” said former football coach Ray McDermott.
Both Barton and Ryan said Truax was an easy person with whom to get along.
“He made me feel very comfortable,” Barton said. “I can’t say enough about him, and what a good guy he was. He was a great coach. He put in the time, and he knew how to relate to kids.”
Said Ryan, “Dick was a credit to everything he did. And I can truthfully say that in all the years we knew each other, we never had a bad argument. Never even had ‘words.’ He was just a real easy fellow to get along with.”