PERCY THOMAS TRAVIS
Holyoke Enterprise, Holyoke, CO, September 1990
Percy Thomas Travis passed away Friday, September 7, at St. Mary Corwin Hospital in Pueblo. He was 88 years and nine months of age. Mr. Travis is survived by his second wife, Margie; 11 children; 30 grandchildren; 20 great grandchildren; four sisters; and one brother.
He was born on a farm 10 miles southwest of Imperial, NE on December 14, 1901, and he lived and worked his entire life in the communities of Imperial and Holyoke. At the time of his death, he had lived on the same farm 14 miles southeast of Holyoke since he moved there with his first wife, Winnie, at the age of 34 in 1935. He remained an active participant in the management and operation of that farm up to six weeks before his death.
Hundreds of people knew Mr. Travis during his 89 years; enjoyed his friendships; benefited from his advice and support; took heart from his encouragement; collaborated productively with him in business; shared in his humor and contagious laughter; were cheered by his optimism; and had their lives enriched by his love and compassion.
He will be remembered by them for many different roles, as a "survivor" farmer and rancher who maintained a successful farming operation over good times but also over some very hard times (all the way from the Great Depression through the farm crises of the 70s and 80s); as a cattle breeder; as a cattle buyer; as an amateur but high skilled veterinarian; as an innovator always eager to test and apply new technologies and new ways of doing things; as an irrigation engineer; as a horse trainer; as a rodeo competitor; as a fun-bent brother; as the founder and quarterback and patriarch of a vital and close knit family; as a proud and supportive dad; and as a loving husband. He had been a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints since his late teens. He was a 32nd degree Mason and a member of the El Jebel Shrine.
The measure of the man is best taken by the families of which he was a core member. There were three, each of which was precious to him.
The first was his family of birth. He was the fourth child of 12 born to Edward and Mary Travis, the fourth son of eight. His father and mother worked their children hard, but they found the resources to send all of the 12 through high school (nine of them, all from Percy on, through Chase County High School), and then on to various colleges and professional schools. After trying college, Percy decided that he preferred the hard work of the farm, the ever-renewing life and opportunity of the land and the people close to it, of horses and cattle and the people close to them. He returned home from college to help his father farm in December of 1920 and, with the exception of a three year interlude (1928-1931) during which he managed the Imperial Grain Equity, he spent the next 70 years as an active farmer.
After returning home, because he was the "big brother" who was at home or living nearby, over the next 15 years he served as mentor and confidant, a kind of second father, for his eight younger siblings. Six of his brothers (Ralph, Lee, Roland, Glen, Everett and Max) have preceded Mr. Travis in death. Five siblings survive him, his brother Leslie and his four sisters, Julia, Vera, Pearl and Mary Amy.
Mr. Travis' second family was the family that issued from his 59-year marriage to Winnie Lorenzen. They were married in August of 1925. She passed away in January of 1985. One of thier nine children (Mary Ann) died as an infant. The other eight survive. Just as his parents had done, Percy and Winnie Travis placed a high priority on learning and education, guiding and tutoring their children (in everything from training horses to repairing tractors to poetry and rhetoric), turning their home and farm into a school in constant session. They encouraged their children to participate and excel in all aspects of grade school and high school, from learning how to defend themselves with their fists to comprehending advanced math. (All eight attended Pleasant Valley Grade School, and all eight attended and graduated from Phillips County High School.) Then they supported all their children through various kinds and levels of college, graduate school and professional school.
The eight children are Stanley (a farmer, Holyoke, married to the former Shirley Sagehorn, a high school teacher who grew up in Holyoke); Larry (a college professor, Madison, WI, married to the former Esther Bryant, a high school teacher who grew up in Holyoke); Edward (a computer system analyst, Denver); Joyce (a registered nurse and nursing instructor, Youngstown, NY, married to Clair Weddle, a minister who grew up in Independence, MO); Karen (a registered nurse, Holyoke, married to Robert Trumper, an insurance agent, who grew up in Holyoke); LaDean (a physician and horse breeder, Pueblo, married to Ralph Spinuzzie, a physician, who grew up in Pueblo); Ronald (a physician, Los Angeles, married to the former Kathy Vejan, an escrow officer, who grew up in Los Angeles); and Dianne (a high school teacher, Delta, married to Ronald Davis, a teacher and a gifts and crafts shop proprietor, who grew up in Holyoke).
Mr. Travis was a demanding but understanding father; providing emotional and financial support far beyond conventional expectations for a father; advising, tutoring and mentoring well into each child's adulthood; treating each child as a unique individual, and insightfully sensing and adapting to each child's special problems and needs. He played no favorites. He loved them all (8) - and all of their children (23) - and all of their children's children (16). And there has been generated in each a fierce, deep, undying love in return.
In September of 1988, Mr. Travis was married a second time - to Margie Fulscher. Thus did he join yet a third vital and active family who enriched his final two years far beyond what they would otherwise have been. As with the other two families to which he offered his love and support he not only received much but he gave much. Through this third family he gained another son, Gary (of Amherst); three more daughters, Janice Sullivan (of Lakewood), Kristine Fulscher (of Denver) and Kathryn Warner (of Olathe, KS); seven more grandchildren; and four more great grandchildren. He not only shared with them their joys and triumphs of the last two years, but also the tragedy of Gary's untimely death this past April.
Mr. Travis died in the presence of Margie, Margie's sister Wilma Fraley and six of his children. (Two others were literally in the air at the time of his death, hurrying to be with him in his final hours.). His last few weeks, after major surgery on August 2, were relatively pain free. He knew that he was dying and, typical of the man, his major complaints were that he wouldn't be able to see this year's very
promising corn crop one last time and that "it takes too long to die."
He lived long and actively, and with very few exceptions those who knew him considered themselves fortunate. With no exceptions, those doubly fortunate enough to have known him as a family member consider themselves to have been blessed by a very special act of God's grace. They know the full significance of these words spoken in his honor at a Masonic ceremony a few years ago: "He follows his dreams and pursues excellence in each task; he brings out the best in others, and gives only the best of himself." A good and strong man has passed our way. We are the better for it.
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