Former assistant superintendent turns 80

Wheeler Cowperthwaite/Nevada Appeal

Wheeler Cowperthwaite/Nevada Appeal

At 80, it’s not a bad life for the retired assistant superintendent for the Carson City School District.

Milan Tresnit, whose 80th birthday was Friday, used to teach and look after a variety of Carson City residents, themselves now pillars of the community. Now, he helps look after his first great-granddaughter, Gracelyn.

Milan came to Carson City in 1961 from Moscow, Idaho, where he went to high school and college. Milan was a principal at a small school in Idaho when he was offered a teaching job. Although it was not an administrative job, the pay was much better and Milan was lured from the land of potatoes to the Great Basin.

While a visit to his sister might have brought him to Carson City, fast-pitch softball kept him for the summer and the superintendent at the time who came to the games was the one who reeled him back in.

“In Idaho, we won the state championship,” he said.

The team’s sponsor offered him a spot on the team for the summer season. Soon, the superintendent, Al Seeliger, offered him the teaching job. For Tresnit, the decision was simple. He had already signed the next year’s contract to be a principal; he was going back to Idaho.

Midway through his new school year, a contract came in the mail. Seeliger, playing fast-pitch, wanted him to be a teacher. He signed the contract and sent it off, as he was promised a much higher wage as a teacher than he was making as a principal.

“We moved down and have been here ever since,” he said.

Tresnit started his career after the dean at his university brought him into his office and told him he needed to start thinking about graduating. He finished a few extra hours in summer school and moved on with his life, to Medical Lake, Wash., for his first job. He lasted three days.

“(It) was a school for severely retarded children and adults. My first job was to take hydrocephalic and microcephalic babies,” with either much larger heads, caused by fluid, or much smaller heads for their age, “out on the lawn, in the summer, let them rest, because they didn’t have any ability for any physical activity,” he said. “That was the saddest job I ever had, to see those babies with huge heads or real little heads out there laying, they couldn’t move, and when they would move enough, their head would fall off the pillow, I’d have to go pick their heads up and put them back on the pillow. I lasted three days. It was the most depressing thing I’d ever seen. I told the superintendent, I says, ‘I just can’t do this.’ He says, ‘Well, I understand. Not everybody can.’”

From there, he started his teaching career in Clark Fork, Idaho. He taught social studies, was the basketball coach, swept the gym and drove the bus. This time, he lasted three years, not days.

“It was a great job. I didn’t make much,” he said.


Tresnit’s father moved to America when he was 10 or 12 and started out as water boy for the Union Pacific Railroad. A yoke, much like those put on oxen, was draped across his back, along with buckets of water to bring the men working on the line. Slowly but surely Tresnit’s father moved up the ranks, eventually becoming foreman of a length of rail line.

The family lived in a boxcar, out in the middle of Idaho, until his older sister was of schooling age. They came back to civilization and his father received a permanent assignment, before he died, while Tresnit was still a young man.


If Tresnit could do it all over again, he would. After he was a teacher for just five years, he was offered an administration position. If he could go back and do it again, he would turn the position down for a few more years because he liked working with the children so much, he said.

Once he retired in 1990, as assistant superintendent, he could not stay away from work and tended bar for five years, worked as a courier for a bank for one and administered the high school equivalency test at the now-empty Nevada State Prison.

Now, Tresnit has slowed down and takes care of his first great-granddaughter.

“The days we don’t take care of her, those are dreary days,” he said. “She’s just the high point of everything.”

Tresnit celebrated his 80th birthday with friends and family at a local restaurant Friday.


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