“He had the most positive, can-do attitude of anybody I’ve ever known,” says Scott Swank ’72, who also pledged Delta Upsilon and played the same defensive back position on the football team. “All of us freshmen looked up to him and wanted to be like him.” Even after graduation, when Scott Trumbull had gone off to earn his MBA at Harvard Business School, he remembered his friends back at Denison. Scott Swank recalls how, a few days before his own graduation, Scott Trumbull walked into the fraternity house and said, “What are you doing? Let’s travel Europe on motorcycles this summer.” Ten days later, the two were in London, buying motorcycles.
That ambition served Scott well in business — first at Owens-Illinois, Inc., where he rose to chief finance officer, and then at Franklin Electric Co. Inc., where he spent more than a dozen years as chairman of the board and CEO. Scott’s leadership helped shape the company into a global technical and market leader in pumping systems and increased the company’s stock price by 400 percent. His business acumen was also called on during his term as chairman of the board of Schneider National from 2009 to 2014, and as a board member of Welltower for 20 years. He also served on the boards of Columbus McKinnon Corporation, the Toledo Museum of Art, and Artisan Funds.
Scott shared his wisdom and success with his beloved alma mater. He began his 24-year tenure as an active member of the Denison Board of Trustees in 1992, serving on the Buildings & Grounds, Enrollment, Finance & Audit, Student Development, and Trustee Affairs Committees, and chairing Finance & Audit from 2002-2008. He served as Vice-Chair of the Board from 1993 until his retirement in 2016, when he became a Life Trustee. He also dutifully took on the roles of Career Advisor, President of the Alumni Board, National Chair of the Annual Fund, Campaign Volunteer, Class Reunion Committee member, Co-Chair of his Reunion Gift Committee, Parents Advisory Council member, and Presidential Search Committee member. The Trumbull family supported the college philanthropically in numerous ways, most notably through the development of the Trumbull Aquatics Center, which is ranked as one of the top collegiate aquatics facilities in the country.
Between their extraordinary service and their three sons’ tenures as Denison students, Scott and wife Margy were back on campus so often that they eventually bought a house in Granville. After board or committee meetings or watching their sons’ Big Red sporting events, the Trumbulls could often be found at the Granville Inn, enjoying a cocktail with their longtime Denison friends.
Despite his incredibly busy schedule, Scott never lost sight of what was most important: his family. Mark Dalton fondly recalls serving alongside him on a Presidential Search Committee, when after a long day of interviews with prospective candidates at a St. Louis hotel, Scott told the group he wouldn’t be able to join them for dinner. His son Matthew ’99, then a Denison student, was swimming in the NCAA Championships across town at Washington University. “A few of us went to watch with Scott and Margy, and we got to see Matt win several events,” says Dalton. “Scott took such great pleasure in watching all three of his sons go to Denison and engage fully as excellent students, athletes, and participants in the community.”
Scott drew upon the same positive attitude that served him well his whole life as he faced Mesothelioma, which he survived for five years before dying August 29, 2020, surrounded by his loving family at their St. Joseph, Michigan home. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Margy; sons Matthew ’99, Benjamin ’03, and Will ’05; his “unadopted son” Troy Botha ’06; daughters-in-law, Heather Brand, Katherine L. Trumbull, and Dana Tookey Trumbull ’04; grandchildren Andrea Beryl, Jaye Marian, Brynnan Brand, Katherine Scott, Upton Davis, Taggart Eberle, Bubba Eugene, and Beau William; brother, Mark Davis Trumbull ’73 and his wife Linda Hickam Trumbull ’75; sister, Susan Trumbull Magnuson ’75 and Dan Magnuson; Margy’s siblings, Betsy and Woody Stover and Ben and Bonnie Upton; and numerous nieces and nephews, including Margaret Beckly Upton Stover ’06 and Chris Hickam Trumbull ’07.
The Denison flag flew at half-mast for three days to honor Scott’s incredible service to his alma mater. “Whether at Board meetings or in personal interactions, Scott’s wisdom and insight was always greatly valued,” said Denison President Adam Weinberg. “He will be deeply missed.”