Political pundit, LVN columnist dies at 77
During the 2010 Nevada Republican convention, soon-to-be Churchill County Republican chairman James Smack addressed delegates regarding rules and bylaws. Smack wasn’t afraid to speak his mind and aligned himself more with the Ron Paul supporters. Fernley’s Orlis Trone and Smack had a disagreement, which surprised Smack, now a chief deputy in the Nevada controller’s office, but later, both men resolved their differences.
“It was a surprise coming from Orlis as he had seemed pretty mild mannered from previous encounters,” Smack said, remembering his friend who died last week. “Apparently, Orlis watched during the rest of the convention, and actually took the time to listen to what I was saying and not just dismissing me as a distraction. He heard what I was saying during the platform fight, and pretty much determined that I was fighting for what he (and many others in Lyon County) believed in and wanted to see as far as the direction of the party.”
Afterward, both men forged a strong friendship that lasted seven years.
The 77-year-old Trone died as a result of heart failure Thursday night in Reno. In January, Trone suffered a massive heart attack but was currently undergoing rehabilitation. Trone, who began writing columns for the Lahontan Valley News in 2010 and penned many articles supporting the Constitution and the American way of life, was known as the “Humble Pamphleteer.”
In 2014, Trone won first place for Local Column Writing from the Nevada Press Association.
“I always loved his writing, his wit and his pleasant demeanor,” Smack added. “He will be missed by both my wife, Vicki, and myself dearly.”
Trone and his wife, Anita, who were together for 44 years, had moved to Fernley from California four years after Orlis retired as a mental health counselor for teenagers in 2002. Anita said Orlis had worked for two hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area. He also had an interest in government and expressed himself through words.
Anita said her husband enjoyed writing letters to the editor and articles for newspapers. Once the Trones moved to Fernley, they both became involved with the Lyon County Republican Central Committee, and Anita became a member and later office-holder with the Fernley Republican Women.
“He was my biggest supporter,” Anita said, adding Orlis assisted with writing articles for the newsletter. “He put a lot of thought into his writing.”
Ken Gray, a Lyon County commissioner who once served on Congressman Mark Amodei’s staff, said Orlis was a true gentleman.
“What will always stand out in my mind was his ability to craft articles that were pointed yet respectful,” Gray said. “He had that rare ability to convey a statesmanship in his articles that so few political commentators possess today. I have always found myself waiting for his next one to be published. We have lost a treasure in losing Orlis.”
Nevada Controller Ron Knecht said Orlis was an incisive and perceptive thinker and skilled writer who was a leader in his community and in the Republican Party.
“Orlis was loved as a friend for his optimistic and pleasant nature and ready smile,” Knecht said. “He was revered by all for his character, and he was greatly respected for his intellect and leadership. He fought a valiant battle to the end. Orlis was a great friend to our whole family, and we shall miss him greatly.
“Of course, Orlis was a fine husband to a great lady and beloved friend, Anita. She has lost her life partner, best friend and the love of her life. Although we cannot find the words to comfort her, she is in the thoughts and prayers of all of us.”
The following are excerpts from his columns that appeared in the LVN:
In September 2011, he wrote about the first man landing on the moon, “The beep heard ‘round the world”:
“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
“On July 20, 1969, when astronaut Neil Armstrong sent the above report back to Mission Control from the surface of the moon, and the news spread over the earth, an emotion of stunned wonderment took hold of the human race as people everywhere attached themselves to the heroic and historic achievement of the event. It was “…one giant leap for mankind.” Friends, foe and strangers alike, deluged America with accolades of praise for the spectacular success of Apollo 11.
“Being a glass-half-full, accentuate-the-positive, eternal optimist, I have a bet-my-life-on-it trust in the competence of the human mind. I believe that what man can conceive he can achieve. So, when Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and “Buzz” Aldrin eased Apollo down onto the powdery surface of the moon, I personalized the accomplishment into an affirmation of my conviction. I was beside myself with inspiration. I grabbed pen and paper and summed up their triumph as ‘The Mission Statement Of Mankind.’”
Another column Orlis wrote in 2012 discussed the United States as an immigrant nation with the makeup of its residents:
“It is our nation’s loss that the existence of Ellis Island, as part of America’s immigrant history, is largely forgotten. During the prime of its time, however, it was the “golden door” opening into the most come-to-country mankind had ever seen.
“That is why the makeup of America’s population is of people from everywhere on earth. No other country is home to so huge an eclectic mixture of nationalities and cultures as is America. Our international recognition as ‘an immigrant nation’ is well deserved, and is a distinction we wear with pride.”
Orlis had strong sense of patriotism and love for his country as he described in his June 2014 column on Flag Day:
“The years beneath my gray hair go to ‘way back when.’ Coming forward from then to now, I have noticed, year-after-year, that fewer and fewer Americans fly the Stars and Stripes on Flag Day. I have to confess that observing their disappearance is a troubling experience. But being the eternal optimist that I am, I’m hoping that this June 14th, the flags of Flag Day will go ‘viral’ and paint the skies over America with the ‘colors’ of our nation.”
Funeral services for Orlis Trone, the youngest of 13 children born in Selma, Ala., on March 4, 1940, will be conducted on April 29 at 10:30 a.m. at Smith’s Family Funeral Home followed by a luncheon at Epworth United Methodist Church’s Wolf Center, 457 Esmeralda St.
In addition to Anita, he is survived by his sister-in-law, Janette (Larry) Van De Mark of Missouri; niece, Crystal Van De Mark of Oklahoma; sister-in-law, Debra Fenno (Randy Critchley) of Wisconsin; and many cousins from all over the country.