It was almost a fluke that Adm. Carlisle Trost attended the Naval Academy, the first step of a long naval career.
Trost grew up working on his grandparents' farm in rural Illinois, his daughter Laura Lee Carrico said. Trost loved education, putting himself through private high school by working several jobs.
He attended a year of college at Washington University in St. Louis, on an Army ROTC scholarship, but the scholarship was only for a year, Carrico said. Trost’s father suggested that he look at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.
Trost did, and he was accepted to Annapolis, the city he would come to love and spend many of his years.
“It entirely changed his entire life,” Carrico said.
The Trosts — the admiral, his wife Pauline and four children Carrico, Carl Michael Trost, Steve Trost and Kathleen Trost — were a close-knit military family, Carrico said. They often moved, depending on Trost’s job, which meant sometimes the family knew no one else. So they grew closer.
Pauline and Carlisle, who also went by Carl, met at the Naval Academy. Trost was a member of the class of 1953, and Pauline Trost was dating another midshipman. They had mutual friends, and by Trost’s firstie year, they were a couple.
“And every picture we ever saw of the two of them, anything I can remember, he just looked at her with total adoration,” Carrico said. “And he would have told you, to the end of his days, that our life as a family, and the closeness that we shared was directly because of her and the type of mother that she was and the support that she gave to him.”
Family was so important to him that in his later naval career, Trost made it so his staff could leave at the end of the day and go home to their families.
Retired Rear Adm. Tom Jurkowsky said that he has memories of playing Candy Land with his family because as Trost’s special assistant for public affairs, he got to go home to his family.
Everyone dreaded Pentagon assignments because of the long commute and long hours. Having a leader like Trost meant the assignment did not cut into family time.
“He remembered people,” Jurkowsky said. “He cared for people. And he was smart as hell. He was brilliant.”
“He would be happy with Burger King as long as he was with his staff,” Jurkowsky said.
While current Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said in a statement Trost guided the Navy through difficult times, including conflict in the Middle East and Panama, he also noted that his goal was “above all else was to be a good husband, a good father, a good friend and a good naval officer.
No doubt, Adm. Trost was all those things. We have truly lost a great leader and shipmate. Fair winds and following seas, sir. We are stronger for your leadership and grateful for your steadfast commitment to our Navy and nation.”
After his naval career, Trost stayed involved, staying active with the Naval Academy Alumni Association and other boards. He and his wife settled in Annapolis.
His favorite place was the academy grounds, Carrico said.
The Trosts also enjoyed going to their beach house in Sandbridge, Virginia. They loved the water, a quality shared by their children.
Trost often reflected on his humble beginnings. After his wife died, he took his children back to his hometown. He showed them his grandparents' farm and the house he built with his parents.
“I think he was grateful for every opportunity he was given,” Carrico said. “I think he made the most of it. And I think he would encourage everybody else to make the most of their opportunities and to live their life with the integrity that he did. And really have respect for everyone. No matter what their walk of life might be.”
His son Steve Trost said the stories that his family has heard from friends and family since his passing have been humbling and awe-inspiring.
“I will always cherish the life experiences and opportunities that I have had thanks to both my mom and dad,” he said.