New trail will honor father's memory

Shown is the Toivo Malm Trail concept with the orange line the trail and yellow potential loop.

ALAMOSA — Toivo Malm may never have been to Alamosa, but a new trail to the Rio Grande will aptly be named for him.

The son of Finnish immigrants, Toivo loved the outdoors and the Nashua River where he grew up in Massachusetts. He would be pleased that a trail along another river will honor his memory.

Toivo’s daughter Dr. Linda Malm is donating $50,000 to create the Toivo Malm Trail, about a mile-long trail that will connect south Alamosa to the Rio Grande and ultimately the Alamosa Wildlife Refuge, Alamosa Parks & Recreation Director Andy Rice explained. Linda Malm asked that the trail be named for her father who died unexpectedly at the age of 64.

The Alamosa city council this week unanimously agreed to name the new trail after Toivo Malm.

“We thank the Malm family. That is a generous donation,” said Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman. He added that it sounded like Toivo Malm was an outdoorsman and this is a way his daughter could memorialize him.

A retired professor, Linda Malm lives in Taos, N.M., and had reached out to SLVGO a year ago asking if there were any trail projects in this area that she could donate to. The Alamosa Public Works, Parks & Recreation, SLVGO and Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge staff were developing a plan for trail routes just south of the city’s wastewater treatment plan to connect south Alamosa neighborhoods to the river and refuge, as this is an area of town lacking in trails. Revitalize the Rio had identified this as a top priority as well.

Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks said there are many trails in the northern part of the community in the ranch area, along the river levee and at the golf course, but there have not been trails in south Alamosa. This will be the beginning of a trail system in south Alamosa, she said, and enhance access for neighborhoods that currently do not have it.

City policy permits the naming of the trail, as the city’s standard for naming parks or facilities is based on significant contributions of land, money or public service.

The new trail will be about three feet wide and run about a mile, with a potential for an additional loop.

Dr. Malm shared some background about her late father who worked hard to provide for his wife and two daughters. The child of immigrants from Finland, Toivo was born in 1914 in Massachusetts where he enjoyed playing basketball, ice hockey and fishing and swimming in the Nashua River. He saw the river polluted by the city’s paper mills but as an adult was happy to see the river restored and trails developed along it. He and his wife enjoyed walking on the nature trails together and taking their children to the city parks.

Toivo drove taxi and then secured a union job at the General Electric Plant in town. He was a skilled boring mill operator working on essential submarine turbines during World War II.

He died unexpectedly in 1977 at age 64.

“I am able to make this gift because his role in my life led to my adult well being,” his daughter Linda stated. “I believe his story is an American story that relates to the lives of many working people in places like the Alamosa community.”

She said she searched for a project that would reflect who her father was and what he valued, and this project fits him well.

“This visionary project has the power to enrich the community for generations,” she stated.

Linda Malm holds a BA in English and art history from Tufts University, a lifetime teaching credential from UC Berkeley and an MFA in television and film and Ed.D. degree in higher education administration from UCLA. She taught every grade level in public schools in California and was an assistant professor at Cal Poly Pomona University, associate professor at the Claremont Colleges and Dean of Arts at Pasadena City College.

When she retired, the California State Legislature passed a joint resolution commending her dedication and contributions to Pasadena City College, the local community, and to the State of California.

In retirement she has become a published poet and was chosen as one of the Writers of Los Luceros. She has participated in community organizations in Taos, where she now lives.