Did you notice something of a “Turkey” of an older man walking around Gordon Library lately? He’s frequently seen in plaid shorts, WPI T-shirts, and sneakers with no laces. If you answered “Yes!” I’m sure your the next question would be,”Who IS that guy?” Well, that guy is Bill “Tuna” Trask, a WPI institution like no other!
Bill first came to WPI in 1958 to work for admissions and college career counseling—and he’s been here ever since! While he officially retired from WPI in 1992, Bill remains involved with numerous fraternities and sororities, is a loyal sports fan, and continues to be an active Skull member. His network of former colleagues, friends, connections — and even people who have heard of him, but never met him — spans across thousands of students and staff and their families. He truly is a unique part of WPI’s culture!
Since D-Term 2015, Bill has donated over 70 boxes of personal, professional, and WPI material to WPI’s Curation, Preservation, and Archives. His collection ranges from paperwork and documents to awards, memorabilia, and even some unique and special findings. With the help of many campus volunteers — students, professors, coaches, archivists, librarians, and many others—we sorted through his collection bringing order to lovingly controlled chaos and are working to finalize his gift to the Archives. It has been a journey of hard work, dedication, and discovery as we work through the many treasures to his family and the university his boxes hold, including unearthing photographs and scrapbooks from Bill’s childhood growing up in Rochester, Vermont. One the most amazing things about Bill’s collection is that no matter when a WPIer was here, Bill has a piece of memorabilia that captures that moment in time — whether it be the soccer program from your first game freshman year, or the postcard you wrote to him while abroad.
A celebratory exhibit, The Tuna Files: Opening up the William Foley Trask Collection, on view in the Gladwin Gallery, Level G through the last weekend in October, invites you to walk through Bill’s life from his childhood to today, along with samplings from his infamous post card collection, sayings, and poems. The exhibit was first envisioned to be a single display case in the Rubin Campus Center during Homecoming 2015. Soon after we opened the first few boxes and spoke to just a handful of Bill’s fans, we realized we had the opportunity to offer a much richer experience told in Bill’s voice.
The Archives hosted a community reception to celebrate Bill and “his stuff” on Thursday, October 8, 2015. Over 170 of Bill’s friends and family turned out to walk through the exhibit and share some laughs over ice cream sundaes.
If you haven’t seen the Tuna File yet, make sure to visit the Gladwin Gallery, Level G, Gordon Library to visit with the “Turkey” and sign his t-shirt guest book. The exhibit ends November 1, so don’t miss your chance to spend some time in Bill’s proverbial shoes. It’s been real!