By Deb Patterson
Ken Troutman is a man who serves and gives of his time and talents to others in their hour of need, whether in the United States or the world. Considered to be retired, he still operates his construction business on a smaller scale and has “slowed down a bit. From 100 miles per hour to maybe 80,” laughed Troutman.
He serves as the town of Syracuse code enforcement officer, is on the Syracuse and Wawasee Lake Patrol and goes on numerous mission trips to help those in need following natural disasters and acts of war.
As code enforcement officer with Syracuse Police, it is his responsibility to enforce the codes and ordinances within the town limits. It could be anywhere from grass clippings, abandoned vehicles parking violations to traffic hazards. “I’m relieving the full time officers of the job of handling smaller things,” Troutman said.
His volunteering is focused on church mission work trips. “I need to give back to the people who are hurting,” he said. He is connected to several nonprofit organizations that go throughout the world and rebuild orphanages, homes and schools. “It’s all volunteer. I’m not paid one cent,” he said.
Troutman goes on five to seven trips each year. During the past 17 years, he has been deployed by different organizations 65 times to 46 different countries. After traveling the world and being in areas of war or natural disasters, areas of intense poverty, unbelievable filth and seeing hopelessness and helplessness of people in their hour of need, he said, “It has helped both Amy (his wife) and I to be more grateful for what we have and the blessings we have in America.”
These trips have also changed their perspective. While visiting some of the worst places of the world, he has met the happiest people. “They have literally one-one hundredth of the wealth we have, and yet they are happy. They got their family, they got their faith, yet they make but $1 a day and life is an enormous struggle for them. But I’ve met some of the people who are content there and to go and help them build a home, school, orphanage, put in a water project to get clean water, that’s a real blessing to be able to serve like that.”
Troutman is not ashamed to tell you his faith is very strong and he’s a Christian. “I believe it’s not what you keep in life, but what you give away that matters.” He also said his passion is in serving, using his gift of leadership and communication, even enforcing the law. “It’s written that a kind word turns away wrath,” stated Troutman, who approaches those violating town codes or ordinances in a gentle way. “I make my words kind, you never know when you have to eat it.” A buddy of his said Troutman is firm but fair.
“Giving, giving and giving, to the community and people hurting all over the world, that’s the legacy I want to leave for my grandchildren,” said Troutman. “I’m not afraid to give my life for what I believe is right. I’m not afraid to die, I’m afraid I’m not going to live a full enough life. … It’s what you do with your life and how you can touch other people.”
Troutman was born and raised in Fort Wayne. Both he and his wife had dealings with Lake Wawasee as children. His wife attended church camp at Oakwood, he would come up ice fishing with his father and grandfather on weekends.
It was 26 years ago Troutman and his wife purchased a travel trailer and parked it at Plaza Harbor on the southeast bay. For five years they came up on weekends between April and October, falling in love with the lake. They then purchased a home in Oakwood and remodeled it, after five years, they purchased another home in Oakwood, but this time on the water. “We’ve lived up here 12 ½ years, year-around,” Troutman said.
They both have become involved in the community, he on the lake patrol, Amy working at Syracuse Public Library. “We believe in serving, making a difference,” Troutman said.
The Troutmans have been married for 52 years, getting married while serving as a law enforcement officer with the U.S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Division. They have two children, a son and daughter, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
When he’s not working, patrolling the lake, or on mission trips, Troutman loves to fish, hunt pheasants, deer and ducks; go camping, enjoy golf, boating and swimming. “I’m an outdoorsman. I love the lake a lot. We’re truly blessed to settle here, we just love it.”