Obituary of Robert Austin Trotman
A phenomenal man once said, “I’ll give you what you need, but you have to work for what you want.” That man was Robert Trotman.
Robert Austin Trotman was 82 and passed away on March 22, 2023. He was born in New York City to Gladstone and Irma Trotman. He is survived by his beloved wife Patricia Ann celebrating sixty years of marriage in 2022 and was the adorning father to Todd Anthony and Jennifer Ann. He is survived by his sister-in-laws, Janet and Francis, brother-in-law Paul, and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, great grandnieces, and great grandnephews.
Robert was a lifelong learner. He lived by the motto that half measures availed you nothing. He proved and learned early on in life that hard work, dedication and commitment would lead to success. These attributes were a constant throughout his life and career. Robert’s athletic and leadership strengths lead him to be selected as the first Black Swim Team Captain at DeWitt Clinton High School. At this point his strengths as a swimmer and role model became the footprint for his life’s work in aquatics.
At the early age of 16, Robert decided that he no longer enjoyed working at his after school job at a supermarket in the building where his grandfather was a landlord. Instead, he chose to spend his afternoons swimming at the bath house on 134th street, in Harlem, New York.
Robert swam competitively on an AAU team while leading the school Glee club as president. He trained and became a NYC lifeguard at the age of 16. He excelled in the Glee Club which led to his performing with the group the Harmoneers at the Apollo Theater. He later joined the Doo Wop group “Norman Fox and The Rob Roys”, which had several hits like “Tell Me Why”, “Dream Girl”, and “Pizza Pie." After graduating from high school, along with his friend Charles Simmons, they created Finmen Swim Club, presently Nu-Finmen Swimming–a subsidiary of the prestigious United States Swimming at St. John’s Recreation Center in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
In 1962, Robert enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He served in the 82nd Airborne Paratrooper Division. During his years at Fort Bragg, Robert would travel back to New York City while on leave to spend time with high school sweetheart and fiancee, Patricia. They wed in 1962 and moved to the Bronx; some time after they welcomed their son Todd and years later, daughter Jennifer. After serving his country honorably, Robert attended Queens College. He continued coaching Finmen, in addition to serving as Lifeguard Captain for the NYC Dept. of Recreation. Robert worked as a NYC Transit Authority Motorman. He was an avid listener of music, especially Jazz and was a beloved dog owner.
Robert proved to the world that the myth, “black people don’t swim”, was false. Robert A.Trotman made his life's journey for the world to know that. He was the first minority coach to train age group swimmers at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and received the 2014 Diversity and Inclusion Award from United States Swimming. He has traveled around the world with his swimmers competing and has received accolades from United States Swimming, Ebony Magazine, NY Times, Daily News, Nassau County Executives, Inc. Village of Hempstead, Hofstra University, 100 Black Men of Nassau County and many more.
During his life Robert was instrumental in helping over 2,000 of his student athletes attend and graduate from college.
Robert, Uncle Bobby, Bob, Coach or as two people call him Dad, was instrumental in so many young people's lives. He was so proud of his athletes, many becoming doctors, lawyers, educators, accountants, nurses, carpenters, business owners, chef’s, etc. His alumni hold him in the highest of regards and will swear that they are who they are because of Robert Austin Trotman. A man who is a modern day legend, a hero, a role model, a father figure, and the light in our lives.
We love you, we honor you and will cherish your memory forever.
Viewing 2:00- 4:30 PM and 6:00-9:30 PM Prayers 7 PM at
Powell Funeral Home 67 Broadway Amityville, NY 11701
Funeral 9:30 AM at St. Martin of Tours 37 Union Ave Amityville, NY 11701
Internment Calverton National Cemetery 210 Princeton Blvd. Calverton, NY 11933