by Dennis Dalman
Just two days before he was killed in Fargo, Samuel Traut had been back home in Sartell, mowing lawn at his family place, working hard all day to help others.
It was typical for Traut – always a giver – to work harder helping others than he would for himself.
Traut’s uncle, Harry Prom of Sauk Rapids, shared his feelings about Samual with the Sartell Newsleader right after the 11 a.m. Monday funeral at St. Francis Xavier Church in Sartell, the church Traut attended throughout his childhood.
Prom is the brother of Traut’s mother, MaryAnn.
Traut, Prom said, had recently returned from a mission trip to Peru and then visited his family before going back to Fargo.
Born July 21, 1990 in St. Cloud, Traut grew up in Sartell and graduated from Sartell High School in 2009. In 2013, he earned a degree in civil engineering at North Dakota State University. He then began work as a civil engineer and road designer for Stantec in Fargo. Besides his day job, Traut was deeply committed as a member of St. Paul’s Newman Center in Fargo, right near the house he was living at when he was murdered. Traut was a Bible-study leader, a religious education teacher, a member of the Knights of Columbus and member of a prayer team.
Prom said he will never forget the time Traut and his sister, Sally, rushed over to his house to put up a Christmas tree for him. It was almost Christmas Day, but Prom had worked all day and came home hungry and exhausted. He had absolutely no energy left for putting up and decorating a tree. The Trauts got wind of Prom’s dilemma and just like that Samuel, Sally and their mom burst through the door – all of them with beaming smiles – put the tree up and decorated it. Prom was so stunned, so happy, he gave them a huge box of chocolates to share.
And that is the portrait of Samuel Traut that was evoked at his funeral: a young man who worked incredibly hard, who would go out of his way to help someone else and who always made people laugh and feel better when they were down.
An aunt of Traut’s, Mary Barron-Traut of Sartell, read a memorial essay that had been written by MaryAnn, Samuel’s mother, with input from Traut’s father and sister. At times choking back tears, Barron-Traut told about what a hard worker Samuel was, always shoveling snow or picking blackberries or splitting wood with his father, Lloyd, and always with a good nature and a smile on his face. He also loved to go fishing, hunting and gopher trapping.
As a young child in the kitchen with his mother, he was always an adventurer, one time toddling around, falling then bouncing back up and always doing antics that made everyone laugh. He was constantly giving, helping others in the most joyful ways, whether in landscaping work or kitchen chores.
His sister, Sally, was Samuel’s “partner in crime,” as their mother humorously put it, always playing games and goofing around by dancing, having bonfires and other fun hijinks they did in their college years.
The Rev. Tim Baltes presided over Traut’s funeral, which was filled with music, singing and prayers. Another guest speaker was the Rev. James Cheney of the St. Paul’s Catholic Newman Center in Fargo. Cheney knew Traut extremely well on a day-to-day basis.
With anger and grief clogging his voice, Cheney asked, “Why this heinous crime? Why this great insult? Why this absurd random act that took Samuel away from us? I’m angry!”
However then Cheney said how many in grief and anger begin a “dialogue of the heart and go through a transfiguration via the reality of God and an awareness of divine life. They find God is living in them, He is living in everyone.” Cheney gave examples of how innocent children often teach us the meaning of love in the most day-to-day ways, like the little boy who went to a neighbor boy’s house who was crying and decided to go there to “help him cry.”
Cheney called Traut a man of courage and faith, infused by deep kindness and regard for others. It is fitting and yet ironic, Cheney suggested, that his last act was an act of Christian charity – getting water for someone who was thirsty.