In Memory of
As Written by Bill Trosch
When my mother was first elected to the Charlotte City Council in the 1970s, she was referred to in the Charlotte Observer as the “Godmother of the Housewife Mafia.” Instead of getting into a battle of words, my Mom plowed forward, working hard for the Charlotte community, for the people she loved. The Observer quote did get one thing right, Minette Trosch was a mother for many many people.
As powerful as she was, what made my mother truly special was her love and acceptance of all people. The basketball goal in our driveway might as well have had the inscription: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . . Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Everyone was welcome at the Trosch home, the [golden] door was literally always open. Poor, rich, black, yellow, red, white, conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat; all were invited to break bread with the Godmother at the Trosch home.
And Minette Trosch welcomed everyone. Lost souls wondering in the desert always seemed to make their way to the Trosch home. When these new entries to the Trosch orbit arrived, Minette would corner them and find out all about them. It was never about Minette, but always about the life and values of the newest inductee of the Trosch family. One close friend told me that “in 5 minutes, Mrs. Trosch could break down every wall you had spent a lifetime putting up.” I had always thought she would be a great psychologist. I was wrong. Although my Mom could listen and get people to talk about things deep in their souls, she could never maintain professional distance, because she truly cared about everyone she spoke to. Although she brought home 3-4 shopping carts full of food a week, with something for each kid that hung out at the Trosch house, what kept people coming back was the spiritual manna that their new Mom fed them.
There are countless examples of how much this open loving home meant to people, but one stands in my mind. One of Lou’s friends had a very difficult time with his family. When things got really bad, he would come to the Trosch house, sometimes letting himself in that open back door during the middle of the night. One winter weeknight this friend had a particularly rough night at home. He drove to the Trosch house on Emory Lane sometime in the wee hours of the night. He wanted to be somewhere safe where he was loved and appreciated. Some newbie must have locked the door that night. This boy fell asleep in the back of my mother’s car in our driveway, using her dry cleaning to stay warm. My mother sent my father outside to find out what the noise was. My Dad brought this boy inside and let him stay the night and as long as he needed.
The Trosch home was still available when these kids grew up. In times of trouble, no less than 15 came back to live at the Trosch house until their lives stabilized again. Another 11 worked as cashiers for her when she was CEO of Take-A-Break. Take a Break had the highest educated cashiers in convenience store history: 1 with an MBA from Chicago, another with an MBA from Michigan, another with an MBA from Duke, five with law degrees, a schoolteacher, a nurse, a banker. All eleven begged to come back to Charlotte to work 12-hour days, earning minimum wage, for the Godmother.
Ellen Thompson, one of the inductees to the Trosch family, called this large collection of biological and adopted Trosches the “Trofia.” Unlike the Mafia, the Trofia was open to all that walked through the golden Trosch door. As Godmother of the Trofia, my Mom made sure that each of us knew that membership came with both rights and responsibilities. The rights: Godmother Minette made sure that the Trofia would show up en masse anytime you needed them; you always had a home with the Trosches; you never had to celebrate a holiday alone; and you were loved always no matter what. The responsibilities: you had to do your best in everything you did; you must pursue an education; you had to serve your community; you had to treat people with respect; and if you failed in your responsibilities, you had to face the Godmother. I would rather face Godfather Vito than Godmother Minette if I had shirked my Trofia responsibilities. You knew she would still love you, but, wow! would she let you know where your actions fell short.
As years went by, the Trosch home became like Mecca to members of the Trofia, who were fiercely loyal to Godmother Minette. Lou, Eric, and my friends would come in from out of town. They would call us to see if we could meet up with them, not at a restaurant, not at a bar, not at our homes, not at their parents’ house, but at the Trosch house with Minette and Lou. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, 30 to 50 members of the Trofia converged to the Trosch house for fellowship and, of course, food. And today, many of them are converging to pay homage to the Godmother of the Trofia. One flew in from South America to be here; another from China. Minette Trosch loved and is loved.
There are a lot of men in our community that are better men because of what Godmother Trosch taught them, and I am one of them. There also are a lot of women that have realized their dreams because of Godmother Trosch’s example, and I truly believe my daughter Kenzie will grow up to be one of them.