The Truscott Model: “Not good for the rocking chair” 

January 27, 2023

By Kasey Bader 

Pictured left to right: Eric, Steven and Janeen Leachman, and Cliff Truscott ready for work at Waikiki Springs last April.

Based on the six degrees of separation, if you live in Spokane there is a good chance you know someone familiar with a house Cliff Truscott had a hand in building or attended a Spokane Public School during his time as a teacher, counselor, or administrator. Cliff retired in 1993 after 30 years in the school system, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowed down. In fact, the first time I spoke to him, the 82-year-old was in the middle of putting siding on a house and asked if I could call back in a few hours. I would later learn the house belongs to his son and is the 35th home he’s built since ‘67. The stats are impressive, but Cliff is matter-of-fact and humble about his record of accomplishments. “I like to work. I’m a great believer in the philosophy of, ‘use it or lose it,’” he explained, “I’m not good for the rocking chair.” 

Cliff’s daughter, Janeen, shares her father’s penchant for hard work so when she learned about the opportunity to build new trails with the Conservancy, it turned into a family affair. Cliff, alongside Janeen and her sons, Eric and Steven, showed up at Waikiki Springs Nature Preserve ready to move rock and break ground. As kids, Eric and Steven helped their grandfather at his Christmas tree farm during the holiday season but haven’t had many recent opportunities to work with him until trail building. Eric continues to help the Conservancy at Waikiki Springs, enjoying the steady and cathartic nature of building trails, and while he mirrors his grandfather’s work ethic, they also share an interest in getting to know the other volunteers. “Everyone is from different walks of life and my grandpa always takes the time to share stories and learn new tidbits about someone’s background. I think that’s because he allows people to be themselves and they’re comfortable around him. It’s fun to listen to.” That seems to be part of the secret sauce for Cliff’s tireless ways. Find what brings you joy and stay busy doing it, but slow down enough to be present and connect with others along the way.   

Cliff Truscott stands atop a hill in Waikiki Springs during a springtime trail-building event. 

Every pursuit keeps him busy, but if the project includes time spent with family and benefits those around him, Cliff is all the happier for it. That common thread weaves its way through my conversations with the family. “He invests in the people around him. He believes taking an interest in others and giving back leads to a better community, and he strives to do that through his actions,” Eric shared. “Inevitably any time someone learns I’m his grandson they dive right into a story about a time he helped them out and enriched their lives or did something to make them happy.” Whether Cliff is shoveling snow off a driveway for a neighbor, completing another house for a family to call home, or making progress on the Waikiki Springs trail system, it’s with the intention of building a stronger community. Perhaps that drive and motivation are influenced by his memories of growing up in Spokane himself. “I’d like to see something left here so future generations can have the same thing I did growing up with the Dishman area as my playground,” he reflects. “I hope kids living here today will get that same experience.” 

Since last June, 70 volunteers including Cliff and his family, have spent over 1,300 hours building the trails at Waikiki Springs Nature Preserve. These trails are used daily for hiking, biking, birding, and exploring. I imagine Cliff, along with the other volunteers, would agree it’s worth putting in the steadfast work to care for natural spaces like Waikiki Springs so friends and family can enjoy them, forever. If there is a formula to follow when doing the work that guarantees an earnest effort and commitment to the community will pay off for generations, the Truscott Model seems like a great place to start. Who knows, you may find yourself working right next to Cliff and can pick up some words of wisdom along the way.