Another of his favorites was when a student would ask what was going to be on an upcoming exam. He would look directly at the student and say, “I don’t know, I haven’t written it yet—any ideas?” His tests were tough, but fair. I once let on to him that I was so worried about my grade on a test that I had dreamt I got an “F”.
A few days passed, and he began to hand the exams back. Usually mine was on top because the higher grades were returned first. Not this time—mine was the last one returned. He made sure the whole class saw it, as he called out my name. He had taken the time to staple a blank sheet to the front and had used a bright red marker to draw a big red “F” on the front. He handed it to me and said, loudly, “Sometimes dreams do come true, Guerrero.” It really was an “A” but he was just having fun at my expense. I went on to enter that “F” paper in a writing contest and won 100 bucks! That was Lance.
Lance came to Purdue Calumet in 1964, three years before the university awarded its first four-year degree. In his time here, he helped create a graduate program in History, introduced the first Afro-American History course, and was instrumental in creating what is now a flourishing University Archives and Special Collections.
Lance retired with the prestige of Professor Emeritus in 2004, continuing to research and write until earlier this year, when he went on to his final reward. His gracious widow, Jan, donated many books and papers from his private collection to Purdue Northwest. Perhaps the most prized of this collection is the desk and chair from Lance’s personal home office. It is proudly displayed in our Hammond Archives Reading Room with a sketch of Lance on the front (done by our own Alan McCafferty).
That was Lance Trusty. My favorite professor, my mentor, my friend. I miss him very much, but I know that his legacy lives on—not only in the memories of those of us lucky to have learned from him, but in future generations who will benefit from his works as they visit our University Archive. RIP my friend.