Kathryn Truax can tell you the exact moment she fell in love with her husband, David “Sparky” Truax. It was on their fourth date. They were in Steamboat Springs, where he worked on the ski lifts. They came across a teenage boy whose snowmobile had become stuck.
“He was just a kid, this was probably one of the first times he was allowed to drive the snowmobile,” Kathryn Truax said. “Most people would have just walked by, or if they helped, they would have said something condescending to the kid.
“But Sparky just went up to the kid and said, ‘Let’s dig this thing out.’”
It turns out that Sparky Truax may have had a special place in his heart for stuck snowmobilers.
“His nickname was A.J. Treewell,” said Dan Robledo, who worked in Steamboat with Truax. “He could find the only tree well for miles around and get a snowmobile stuck. Everybody who worked here pulled him out at one point or another.”
Sparky Truax, a firefighter and EMT, died Friday in Denver in a traffic-related accident. He was 50.
Truax’s time in Steamboat Springs was sandwiched between careers of public service, first in the Army and then as a firefighter at South Metro Fire/Rescue, where he worked for the past 10 years.
Truax did things on his own schedule and got a late start on a number of life’s milestones. When he went through the fire academy at age 39, he was, at that time, the oldest cadet ever to complete the academy. After years on the job, he volunteered to go through a grueling paramedic academy.
He didn’t have his first child, Izabelle, 7, until he was 43, and Truax was 47 when son, Davis, 3, was born.
His late start, however, didn’t stop him from enjoying himself, according to friends. His firefighter schedule meant that he often was a stay-at-home dad. He would ride the RTD light rail into downtown Denver with Izze or Davis. He would go to the Tattered Cover Bookstore and enjoy a cup of coffee, browse the books and return home.
“He wasn’t into the traditional dad things,” Kathryn Truax said. “The kids loved it. They would love to ride the train and ‘have coffee’ with Dad.”
Despite graduating from a demanding program at Texas A&M University and making a career in the paramilitary world of firefighting, Sparky secretly was a romantic.
Robledo remembered finding Truax in a bookstore, writing something in a pad of paper.
“He tried to hide it from me,” Robledo said, “But after I pressed him on it, he showed it to me, and it was poetry he had been writing.”
Shortly after they became engaged, Kathryn and Sparky Truax tired of answering questions about when they would have kids. They came up with the stock reply, “When we get back from New York.”
“When are you going to New York?” the friend inevitably would ask.
“No plans,” the couple would reply.
Then came their trip to the Grenadines.
“He made a point to fly through New York on the way down (to the Grenadines),” Kathryn said. And that, she said, was when they started their family.
The traditional fire service drums and pipes planned for Truax’s service will hold a special significance. Truax was learning to play the bagpipes.
Bagpipes also were part of Truax’s unorthodox parenting style. Every morning after Kathryn left for work, it was time for he and his kids to “rock out,” which meant dancing around to bagpipe punk rock.