Thelma D Trotty-Selzer

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AKA Ms T. D. Trotty
March 25, 2024

The call of the wolf is quiet today, as we announce the death of Thelie Trotty-Selzer. Coordinating to the 15th day of the Lakota month of the moon when eyes hurt. Thelie was born on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota to Thelma I. Bass Trotty and James E. Trotty. They were of the Oglala Lakota Nation and members of the Wolf Clan. Thelie was predeceased by her parents, her brother James Trotty, Jr. and her sister Constance Trotty Canfield.

Ms. T.D. Trotty, as her students called her, became the first Native American faculty member in the Syracuse City School District, and only the second person of color. She taught one year at Levy Jr. High and spent the next 28 years at William Nottingham High School. She would often be heard saying "Use your Intellect,” and calling her students “Mr.” and “Ms.”, as she consistently worked to harvest the best that each student could accomplish. Ms. Trotty and her students helped to plant the trees and flowers across the Nottingham campus, many of which remain to this day.

Thelie was always committed to her community and issues of social justice. She was an active member of the Civil Rights movement, helping to integrate the lunch counter at W.T. Grant’s here in Syracuse. She served on the boards of the Metropolitan School for the Arts, Jewish Community Center and National Council of Jewish Women. She volunteered at the Everson Museum of Art, taught at the Epstein School and Temple Concord and was a global lecturer about Native American culture and history.

She was passionate about the arts and loved poetry. Through their worldwide travels together, she and her smitten husband Jon, were often in museums, enjoying ballets and operas, theatre and concerts. They had a wonderful marriage and her children and grandchildren left her fulfilled.
She is survived by her loving family: Jon, Haniya (Ryan) Mee, Rebecca (Tim) Canfield and Alvah Canfield, VII, by her adoring grandchildren Trotter and Capucine Mee and Gerald Woodruff and by a circle of family and friends around the world.

The family will be celebrating Thelie’s life at Temple Concord at 11 am on Thursday, March 28. Friends may visit with the family immediately prior to the service from 10 to 11 at the Temple, 910 Madison Street. Entombment in The Oakwood Cemetery Mausoleum beside Jon’s parents, her mother, and sister will be private. The service will be live streamed by Temple Concord at

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to perpetuate Thelie’s memory to Temple Concord, 910 Madison Street, Syracuse, NY 13210; The National American Indian Museum, ℅ Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 23473, Washington DC 20026; or Oglala Lakota College, 490 Piya Wiconi Road, Kyle, SD 57752

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I only had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Thelie once but the light that shone from her life, her work and her love as a mother and grandmother, preceded her. Seeing how positively she impacted those who knew her well and the unwavering palpable love her husband had for her, makes me wish I met her sooner but grateful that I was able to spend the little time I did in her presence. Rest in your power Ms. Thelie. To Mr. Selzer, Haniya and family- from our family to yours our deepest condolences. We are here for you in any way you may need.

Written by Ricci Alma-Bueno
2024-03-25 11:35:00 PM

Jon and immediate family - Gary and I want to express our deepest sympathies. Thelie was loved by anyone who knew her and her return love to our family was special! May her memory be a blessing to her family and to everyone who knew and loved her and memories gift comfort. Condolences from Gary and Reneé Greenberg

Written by Renee Greenberg
2024-03-25 9:15:58 PM

My deepest condolences to the family.

Written by Christine Falcone
2024-03-26 12:33:02 PM

I was so lucky to have her as a teacher. She was kind, generous and funny. She never let me get away with too much but wasn’t so strict that I backed away. I loved that her niece Becky and I were friends and Ms Trottie worked with our friendship to help me make myself better as a person. I respected her for all her life accomplishments as the first of so many. I know so many years have passed- however- I had two teachers that truly vibrated as who I wanted to be as a strong female leader and Thelma Trottie was one of those two. Thank you for always being true to who you were as a bad ass woman! Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom. My heart goes to her family. You were all so fortunate to have her as a guiding light. Sincerest condolences to all. With much love and adoration- Jackie Wolf-Kibler

Written by Jackie Wolf Kibler
2024-03-26 4:26:41 AM

Jon, my deepest sympathy to you and your family. As you know, Ms.Trotty was my friend, mentor, and colleague. I truly will remember her encouraging words and support when I was in High school. She was small in stature, but nourished the best in you. You knew that you were given Pearls of Wisdom after each encounter with her. A great lady, compassionate, dedicated to supporting causes, and bringing light to issues. Ms. Trotty will be greatly missed. Cheryl Dixon-Hills

Written by Cheryl Dixon-Hills
2024-03-27 6:57:31 PM

Love and admiration to a remarkable teacher and person. Deep lamentations and condolences to an outstanding and unforgettable teacher. Pay attention and don't goof off.Ahavah Israel Niles GreenhouseMD Nottingham H.S.grad and extended family

Written by Niles GreenhouseMD
2024-03-30 3:53:28 PM

My deepest sympathy to Jon and family. Ms Trotty, as we referred to her as students, was an incredible teacher and, subtly but significantly different, educator. She encouraged us to really think and to question the world around us. In my formative years as a student, Ms Trotty formed an indelible place in heart and memory. Starting in Nov 2019, I was so fortunate to develop a renewed communication with Thelie (to which she corrected me to refer to her), decades after attending high school. I so enjoyed her thoughts and the vigor, passion, and fire that burned within her and emanated in her words. She touched so many and did so much. The world needs many more Ms Trotty's. As I learned at her remembrance last week, in the Lakota way, she is now on her "walk on" to a peaceful place. One day, if I'm so fortunate, I'll share a walk and a talk with her. Until then, we thank you for all you gave us! Thoughts, love, and prayers to her family.

Written by Bill Murphy
2024-04-01 5:52:49 PM