By Jennie Zeitler
Retired teachers Vic and Lorrayne Traut of Sauk Centre have been blessed with many active and fun-filled retirement years. They are still going strong.
Vic grew up on a dairy farm near Sartell with 10 siblings. He entered the Air Force after high school, travelling to Texas, Wyoming, Okinawa and Duluth before being discharged in November 1954.
Lorrayne grew up near her dad’s blacksmith shop in St. Wendel with seven siblings. She earned her associate of arts degree at St. Cloud State University (SCSU) and began teaching.
The two met at the St. Wendel dance hall through Vic’s cousins. Their May 30, 1955, wedding celebration included a shower dance at the dance hall. They started married life in St. Cloud, but lived with Lorrayne’s parents in St. Wendel once their first child was born. Lorrayne’s mother babysat while Lorrayne taught and Vic worked on his degree from SCSU in broad science and math.
Vic was hired by the Chokio Schools after graduating, while Lorrayne continued to teach in Sauk Rapids for two years. She joined him in Chokio for three more years.
In 1965, they moved to Sauk Centre and “have been here ever since.” Vic taught junior high math and science for three years before moving over to ninth grade math. The last two years before he retired in 1992, he taught junior high and high school science.
Back in the 1960s, the Sauk Centre School District could not hire both spouses using district funds. So rather than teaching in a classroom, Lorrayne was a Title I reading and math teacher, a federally-funded position. When a new superintendent came, Lorrayne became a reading consultant.
She then took a four-year leave of absence from the Sauk Centre School District to be the principal of St. Agnes School in Osakis. She then returned to Sauk Centre and was in special education for two years before becoming curriculum director and assistant principal at the junior/senior high school, a position she held until her retirement in 1994.
The Trauts’ daughter Teresa lives with her husband in Crosby, N.D. Their son, Terry lives in New Hampshire. Youngest daughter Kristi lives in Wyoming, Minn. They have six grandchildren.
Even before they retired, the Trauts began to travel, an activity they both thoroughly enjoy.
“We just took our seventh Princess cruise, this time to Norway and the fjords,” Lorrayne said.
They have taken cruises to many areas, including the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Panama, Alaska and twice to the Holy Land. Tours have taken them to Central Europe (Berlin, Frankfurt, Prague, Warsaw, Krakow, Vienna, Budapest and London) and to Oberammergau for the once-a-decade Passion Play.
“We take a trip about every two years,” Vic said. “The Alaskan cruise was the best because we had the whole family there. The whales were out playing, the glaciers calving and the weather was super.”
Pinning down just one favorite trip is not so easy for Lorrayne. While the Alaskan cruise holds a special place in her memory, she was very intrigued by the Central Europe tour.
“Every morning we woke up and experienced a different culture,” she said.
Seeing Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin and going to Auschwitz were significant experiences.
The third of her favorites was the cruise in the Mediterranean.
“Corinth, Ephesus, Athens and Istanbul were all so different,” she said.
No matter where they go, what they see or the people they meet, the primary pleasure of each trip is their own companionship.
“Vic and I always travel well together; he’s a good companion,” said Lorrayne. “We enjoy ourselves wherever we go — even at home.”
“We try to spend time with our siblings,” said Lorrayne. “I lost three within the last year.”
For about 15 years, Vic was only semi-retired, spending time trapping pocket gophers in about 15 local farmers’ alfalfa fields.
“I was making more money retired than I had been teaching,” he said.
The best part of the venture was spending time with local kids. Eric Moritz and Eric Zwilling, fifth graders at the time, helped him get things off the ground. After they grew up and into other activities, Kevin Moritz and Zach Winters helped Vic out for about three more years.
“After that I went by myself,” he said. “I still trap muskrat.”
The Trauts stay fit and active — both physically, mentally and spiritually.
Vic had an angioplasty in 1995, with four stents put in. That kept his health on an even keel for a number of years.
About 10 years ago, he and Lorrayne started an exercise program. Five days a week, they drove to the Ding Dong Cafe downtown and walked two miles out of town and two miles back. Then they had breakfast at the cafe.
Then in 2011, Vic had a mild heart attack which started with shortness of breath.
“We really prayed a lot,” Lorrayne said. “When he went in for repairs, the doctor cleared all the clogs.”
“It slowed me down,” said Vic. “Instead of walking four miles per hour, I do three now. I can’t keep up with her anymore, so we go to Snap Fitness.”
Now they walk alongside each other, but at different speeds. Vic walks, bikes and does upper body-strengthing exercises. Lorrayne walks, does upper body exercises, yoga and Pilates. They are at SnapFitness bright and early, five days a week for an hour.
“But we ‘cheat’ on Wednesdays,” Vic said. “We leave halfway through to get to Mass early for the Rosary.”
After fitness, the Trauts reward themselves by having breakfast at Ding Dong. That includes Vic’s favorite, chocolate-flavored Malt-o-Meal.
“We did a 5K walk with our son two weekends ago in Sauk Centre — Knock your Sauks off,” said Lorrayne.
Vic reported that his son walks so fast, Vic had to take a nitroglycerin tablet to keep up with him, which was observed by former Chief of Police Jim Metcalf.
“Jim told me, ‘You took an enhancing drug — you should be disqualified,’” said Vic with a grin.
The Trauts are lifelong learners; both spend a lot of time reading. Vic reads mostly about the outdoors, the National Rifle Association and the American Legion. Lorrayne reads non-fiction, often about faith-related topics. Together, they utilize video learning through The Great Courses — Events that Changed History.
“We don’t earn credits for it; we just enjoy the learning,” Lorrayne said. “We order DVDs for a course. Each session is a half-hour long, then we discuss it. We agree about 99.9 percent of the time.”
They have studied the history of the Catholic Church, archeologists revisiting the Holy Land and the Old Testament.
“There is a huge variety of topics to choose from,” Lorrayne said.
They usually watch the Minnesota Twins games. They play several games together, including cribbage, Dominoes, Rummykub and Farkle.
They are currently in the middle of a weekly Bible study on Galatians. They take part in adoration at St. Paul’s once a week and say the Rosary at Fairway Pines Assisted Living.
Every evening at 8:30 p.m., they pray together, reading Bible Scripture, maybe saying the Rosary or a Divine Mercy chaplet, adding their own petitions.
“Life is good here in Sauk Centre,” Vic said. “You just have to get out and do things.”