The Way We Were: George Sedding Trotter & Ann Allulis Trotter

The Way We Were: George Sedding Trotter & Ann Allulis Trotter
Trotter family: Susan, Ann holding Mary Ann, Kathleen, George, Junior, John Edward, George, Senior

It would not be difficult to imagine George Sedding Trotter, M.D., dressed in a frock coat, his antique medical bag in tow, riding with horse and buggy to care for Jacksonville’s ailing residents.

Since beginning his residency and internship in 1959 at St. Vincent’s Hospital, the same hospital where he was born Oc. 27, 1932, “Ole Doc Trotter,” as he calls himself, epitomizes what a family doctor should be. He cares for his patients like family and practices good old-fashioned medicine at his office on Myra Street, which is adorned with awards, photographs of his family and ballerinas he has partnered, and Nutcracker Ballet posters, as well as cartoons to lighten the mood for patients stepping on the scale.

Trotter’s staff includes Carolyn Conner, who has been with him since 1975 and described her duties as “nurse, seamstress, x-ray technician, lab tech, whatever!” and Wanda McKinney, who started in 1989, and said, “You can call me whatever you want to – office manager, travel agent, gardener, billing clerk – I just do whatever he wants me to do.” They maintain an easy banter and professional relationship with Doc Trotter that keeps things running smoothly.

“Well, about the best thing about working here is we get Friday afternoons off,” joked Conner. “Actually, Dr. Trotter is a delight. I’ve only seen him mad twice in all these years and that was because the EMTs weren’t taking his patient as quickly as he thought they should.”

McKinney said Trotter tells them all the time that if one of them quits he will have to retire. His favorite quote is “A team is a reflection of its leadership. And we are a great team.”

George Trotter grew up in Riverside, attended St. Paul’s Catholic School, University of Florida (he is a dedicated Gator football fan) then graduated University of Maryland Medical School in 1959.

It was while working at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore that he went on a blind date with red-headed nurse Ann Allulis. She was to attend the hospital dance with George’s roommate, who ended up having to work and asked George to take her instead.

They met in the coffee shop so they could get acquainted and Ann was late. “My first impression wasn’t too good,” she said. “I could see from his face he was upset that I kept him waiting. But he was nice and cute. Then he didn’t even call me until the day of the dance so I wasn’t going to go, but my roommate talked me into it.”

The young couple married June 8, 1959 – a Monday – at Our Lady of Victory Church in Baltimore. “My mother said no one will come on a Monday! But, we had a wonderful representation,” Ann recalled.

The Trotters honeymooned in a cabin at Lost River State Park in Virginia, then moved to Jacksonville so George could report to St. Vincent’s Hospital on July 1, 1959 for his residency.

They rented an apartment on James Street in Riverside. Although they had a 1951 Chevrolet which George used for work, since Ann didn’t get her driver’s license until 1963, the young bride walked to Setzer’s Grocery Store and the laundromat on King Street, or washed clothes in the huge bathroom sink.

Like most young doctors, George worked long hours and the couple did not have much money. With no television they listened to their record player and read. Later, when George was earning $300 a month, they invested in a stereo.

In 1960, George, Junior was born; then one right after the other came Kathleen (Dr. Eduardo Balbona), Susan (Michael Perkey), John Edward (Kris Fallin) and Mary Ann (Douglas Moran). The Trotters moved their expanded family into a physician friend’s rental house on Wabash Avenue, where Charles and George’s Car Wash is now, then to an apartment on Willowbranch. They bought their first house in Hyde Grove Acres, then built their present home in Ortega Forest.

Early on, the Trotters’ social life centered around their children, a supper club with other doctors and their wives, Timuquana Country Club, and Medical Society functions. Dr. Trotter has chaired and served on numerous boards of directors and is past president of the Duval County Medical Society, The Leukemia Society, Northeast Florida Aids Network, The American Cancer Society; the list goes on and on.

An avid sportsman, Trotter played basketball at the YMCA, tennis (he now has a tennis court in his backyard) and traveled for ski and bicycle trips. Longtime friend Gunnar Miller reminisced about their daredevil skiing and biking trips in the Grand Canyon, Bergdorf Hot Springs, Monument Valley and throughout Belgium, Holland and France.

“I followed Trotter’s bright socks on a bike trip throughout Holland,” said Miller. “Once we came to some deep water – the rest of the folks were sliding down the bank and bogging up. We just decided to get up as much speed as we could and we went right through it. And, we did some fast skiing out west, just flying. We were in great shape then. He is a great friend, a faithful friend.”

Dr. Trotter’s wanderlust has taken him around the globe, including Europe, China, Peru, and Russia. He brings back little gifts for friends and family and has added significantly to his extensive costume collection.

Over the years, Trotter made appearances in small roles in his daughters’ ballet recitals but when Mary Ann asked her father to audition for the Nutcracker in 1987 the ballet bug bit and Trotter’s new adventure started.

He enrolled in ballet technique and pas de deux classes, where he discovered a blending of athleticism and artistry that was challenging and fun. He stopped playing basketball to save himself from injuries which might affect his dedication to dance.

Trotter expanded his repertoire and has performed in operas, with the Jacksonville Concert Ballet Company, Jacksonville Ballet Theatre and as guest performer in classical and comedic roles in many ballets.

Instrumental in founding The Community Nutcracker Ballet, now in its 26th year, he served as president and CEO from 2005 to 2012, when he moved the organization to a more professional level and raised funds which have contributed to student scholarships and benefited The Leukemia Society, Vision Is Priceless, Dreams Come True and many other organizations.

To say Dr. Trotter has “performed” the role of Herr Drosselmeyer in the Community Nutcracker for 25 years is not quite accurate. He is Drosselmeyer!

“Dr. Trotter’s heart and soul go into Nutcracker on stage and off,” said Debra Rankin, associate artistic director for Community Nutcracker. “The character comes to life year after year with warmth, mystery and finesse. The Community Nutcracker Ballet is forever in his debt for his untiring efforts to promote and sustain a quality performance in Jacksonville.”

Trotter, a former Best Dressed Man in Jacksonville award winner, has played an Ugly Stepsister in Cinderella, Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty, Mother Ginger in Nutcracker and has taken on other female roles as past king and member of the Mystic Reveler’s Ball.

A friend related a hilarious conversation with Ann, who never batted an eye when discussing the difficulties of finding a brassiere in her husband’s size. Their daughter, designer Kathleen Balbona, has created many fabulous costumes and hats for her father’s theatrical performances.

Trotter’s ballet friends describe him as compassionate, caring, dedicated to excellence, a true gentleman, hilariously witty, irreverent and hard headed.

A true balletomane who would rather perform than anything, he had shoulder surgery to improve his ability to lift the dancers in pas de deux. “Remember when he came to ballet class wearing a blood pressure cuff only six weeks after having seven heart by-passes?” recalled another dancer.

“George loves the limelight,” said Ann about her ballet-obsessed husband. “I am more of a homebody.” But, she can be found front row center for every performance, and brings her energy to committees and fundraising events in all aspects of the couple’s many community-wide commitments. 

Trotter’s skill, compassion and dedication to hard work have expanded and enhanced the Jacksonville community on many levels. When appointed to the Duval County Medical Society’s Indigent Care Committee by former Mayor Tommy Hazouri, Trotter developed We Care Jacksonville in 1993. 

“Oh, my Lord, I worked to establish a way to help, to be more charitable and get doctors to donate their time to helping the poor,” explained Trotter. “Most doctors are caring people and want to help. God intervened and one thing connected with another – Christ the King Church and Monsignor Danaher, I.M. Sulzbacher – and that was the start of We Care.”

The organization has grown incredibly and serves the medically underserved of Jacksonville, the uninsured and the homeless. Each year the organization presents the George S. Trotter, M.D. Founder’s Awards for medical professionals, philanthropy and service. He also founded The Physician’s Talent Show to help fund We Care.

In his not-so-spare time, Trotter volunteered for over 40 years at University Hospital in the hematology/oncology clinic, for which he was awarded an associate professorship by the University of Florida.

The woman behind the man, referred to by Trotter as “my bride” or “St. Ann,” has supported her husband through 58 years of marriage, five children, nine grandchildren and innumerable endeavors.

Ann keeps their home running like clockwork, caters to her husband, who admits to not knowing how to cook, iron or do any kind of domestic chores. Friends tease that keeping the always immaculately-dressed Trotter’s closet organized is a full-time job.

In an amusing turn-around a couple of years ago, it was Ann who wore the pants when she donned the Drosselmeyer costume for a Halloween party. She has also had a go at his Captain Hook costume.

Ann is involved with the Jacksonville Garden Club, church activities at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church where they have been members for over 50 years, family gatherings and aiding the many organizations which she and Dr. Trotter support.

From physician’s white coat to Drosselmeyer’s black frock coat, Trotter’s costumes are more than props – they are the batteries powering the 85-year-old “Energizer Bunny” of Ortega Forest.

By Peggy Harrell Jennings
Resident Community News

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