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Remembering Dr. Monroe Trout

It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of our dear friend and community philanthropist, Dr. Monroe Trout.

Monroe and Sandy Trout

He died Monday, March 4 at the age of 92. I reflect on his fascinating life and the incredible legacy he leaves behind. Monroe and Sandra’s generosity touched the lives of many, and its impact will continue to be felt for many years to come.

Trout Museum of Art  

In 1960, Dr. Trout married Sandra Lemke, from Appleton. The couple believed art is at the center of what it means to be alive and be an empathetic person. During more than 60 years of marriage, they collected art as they traveled the world. Today, the Trout Collection is an eclectic mix of over 150 museum-quality works of art, including American, European, Asian and African paintings, sculptures and other decorative objects that represent more than 400 years of art history.

In 2010, the Trouts relocated to Appleton and gifted their collection to the Appleton Art Center, now the Trout Museum of Art, along with a seven-figure endowment to preserve, protect and promote the collection that leveraged gifts from new donors and increased giving by current donors.

The Trouts later established endowments to support Museum exhibitions and special projects. The Museum elevated its programs and exhibits and supports many classes for all ages. The Trouts’ philanthropic support of the museum continued in recent years with their lead gift of $5 million for the support of the new museum in a new building it will share with Lawrence University. The groundbreaking for the new museum in downtown Appleton was held Thursday, a day of reflection and celebration of his life. Our community will learn together, be inspired, and enjoy the visual arts in new and exciting ways thanks to the vision and generosity of the Trouts.

The Trouts’ support goes well beyond the Trout Museum and the Fox Valley to organizations such as Cambridge in America, where they supported the Churchill Archives; Knoxville Opera Company; the McPherson Eye Research Center at the University of Wisconsin; and Wisconsin Public Television.

Dr. Trout said education “unlocked the door to my future, and my experience imbued me with a spirit of helping others.” He helped found Atlanta’s Morehouse School of Medicine and established scholarships and endowments at five colleges and universities and made other educational contributions, including to the Marine Corp Scholarship Foundation. The Trouts established scholarships for local students including graduates of Fox Valley Lutheran High School and St. Paul Lutheran School in Appleton.

The Trouts established 10 charitable funds within the Community Foundation. Since its inception in 2011, the Dr. Monroe and Sandra Trout Charitable Fund, donor advised, has awarded more than $9 million to numerous of the Trouts’ favorite nonprofits and schools in the Fox Valley and beyond.

The Trouts established various PBS Wisconsin programming, including the award-winning Wisconsin Public Broadcasting System Kids Channel in memory of their son Timothy.

On Feb. 4, 2024, the Trouts joined students and the Board of Regents from Fox Valley Lutheran High School at the groundbreaking of the Timothy Trout Sports Center and outdoor tennis courts, a dream made possible through the Trouts’ generosity.

From humble beginnings to doctor, lawyer and philanthropist 

Born and raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, during the Great Depression, Monroe Trout was one of 14 children. At age 6, he worked odd jobs such as mowing lawns, shoveling snow, carrying out ashes from the coal furnace and cleaning the medical office of a local surgeon.

He graduated as salutatorian of his class and won a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his room and board as a dormitory advisor and pocketed extra money as a parking lot attendant at the university. With help from a Navy program, Trout attended Penn Medical School. When he graduated, he oversaw the entire university parking lot system.

Dr. Trout spent five years in the U.S. Navy and returned to Harrisburg to serve as chief of medicine at the Harrisburg State Hospital. He enrolled in Dickinson Law School while working at the hospital. He worked on the law review and taught a class on medical legal issues. When he graduated in 1964, Dr. Trout was the only person pictured in the yearbook as both a student and a professor.

Curt Detjen and Monroe Trout

For more than 40 years, he was a force in the healthcare industry. Dr. Trout led the governmental affairs department of Pfizer, Inc. before joining Winthrop Laboratories and was vice president for medical affairs. In 1978, he became a senior vice president of the parent company, Sterling Drug. He retired in 1986, but two months later joined American Healthcare Systems as chairman and CEO. He rebuilt the company from the ground up.


The Trouts received the Outstanding Lifetime Philanthropy Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Northeast Wisconsin Chapter in 2020 and were similarly recognized in their former home community, Knoxville, Tennessee, in 2004.

Monroe’s life was legendary. Our Fox Valley and State of Wisconsin are forever blessed that they relocated here and found so many friends and worthy causes to share their lives and generosity.

Monroe is survived by Sandra, his beloved wife of 63 years, his eldest son Monroe Jr., his daughter-in-law Christine and four grandchildren. There will be a private funeral service for family members only at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Appleton with military honors provided by the VFW Post in Freedom.

Curt Detjen, President and CEO

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2 Responses to Remembering Dr. Monroe Trout

  • Julie Gardner says:

    Absolutely beautiful article. Thank you so much for sharing. Truly an incredible man.♥️

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