In 2018, news spread that Florence resident Silas Torrey planned to bring a wellness center to the community. With no grants, loans, or donations, many wondered how he’d pull it off. Now, three and a half years later, he’s the one who’s laughing as his multifaceted community center is taking shape.
Although getting to this point took Torrey on quite the journey.
“Basically, the last 45 years of my life, I tried to work in offering people nutritional opportunities, healthy, nutritional opportunities, and I kind of gave up 20 years ago on people, not on my callous, but I was just...I gave up. I wasn't having an impact at all,” said Torrey, reminiscing on his years working in nutrition.
Longtime owner of Torrey’s Home Cooking and Food Store in Missoula, Torrey spent the majority of his life’s work inspiring healthy habits, but at some point, he lost sight of that dream. He turned away, discovered sailing, and moved on.
“So I gave up and went sailing and I became totally obsessed,” said Torrey.
It was during a break on one of his sailing expeditions that he discovered the game of pickleball.
The newfound interest in the game brought back a desire to help the community get in shape.
“So I said 'well maybe I can bring this in and tie a little bit of nutrition back in again,' so this whole thing is kind of mushroom and stars align somewhat!”
With 4 acres of land to his name, Torrey mapped out the plans for a community wellness center -- complete with outdoor and indoor recreation areas, a kitchen to serve healthy meals, and of course a handful of pickleball courts.
“But the thing is, I had things going for me,” Torrey told MTN News, “I had my desire to help nutrition, you understand, I had the building here, and I had this new pickleball idea, and the luxury of having $100,000. Then it was just a matter of waiting and my wife and everybody else putting up with it.”
Torrey said at least one hundred people have pitched in to help with this massive undertaking of a project.
The brunt of the work -- the hammering of nails -- that was all him.
About as strong as an ox, the physical labor of this project was never doubted. Other aspects, however, were doubted and still are.
“A lot of my family and almost everybody wonders, ‘How are you gonna pay for it, how are you going to do this?’ That's all you ever hear, and I really don't have an answer, but I'm not a bit worried about it.”
Some might call his idea crazy, but often it’s the crazy ideas that spark the most change.
“In your latter years, that's where you can have a good impact on people, you know, financing, time, the wisdom you build up, the expertise you build up, all these things.”
Torrey’s indoor pickleball courts are now open to the public. You can call him at (406) 369-2710 to reserve a time to play.
The kitchen and remaining amenities in his facility are on track to be up an and running by September.