Our Lord called home to Himself on Monday, Sept. 24, Travis T. Willey, 92, of Arlington.
The family will receive visitors at the Blessing Funeral Home, 401 Elm Street in Mansfield, Texas, on Thursday, Sept. 27, from 6-8 p.m.
Funeral services will be held at St. Barnabas Methodist Church, 5011 W. Pleasant Ridge Road in Arlington on Friday at 2 p.m. The committal service will be on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Wimberley cemetery in Wimberley, Texas, on Old Kyle Road.
Mr. Willey was preceded in death by his parents, Willis Carroll and Mattie Lee Qualls Willey; his brother Harley (Ada) Willey; sister Avo (Charles) Castleberry; sisters Opal Willey and Virgie Willey; and brother-in-law, Dewitt Lloyd.
He is survived by his wife, Edna Evelyn Fenner Willey of Arlington; daughter Deborah (Lee) Kunkel of Brenham; and son David (Terry) Willey of Arlington; seven grandchildren, Belinda (Michael) Bobo, Cara Kunkel, Jaron Kunkel, Jennifer (Josh) Willour, Rebecca (Cody) Kersh, Miranda Willey and David Travis Willey. Also surviving are 12 great-grandchildren including Alexis Williams, Nicole Bobo, Kelly Bobo, James Bobo, Audrey Bobo, Jordan Rivera, Isaiah Rivera, Julia Rivera, Zachary Rivera, Reagan Willour, Lincoln Willour and Asa Kersh.
Mr. Willey is also survived by a sister, Mozell Lloyd of Sulphur Springs and sister-in-law Frances Manning of Duncanville, numerous nephews and nieces and beloved friends.
Born February 3, 1920, in Madill, Oklahoma, Travis was the fifth child of Willis and Lee Willey. His daddy was a railroad worker on the Frisco line. The family moved to Arkansas when he was two years old, a month-long trip by covered wagon. There, they lived on his grandfather’s homestead farm in Johnson County. There was no high school where they lived, so when Travis finished eighth grade, his parents sent him to Dallas to live with his older brother Harley’s family so he could continue his education. He attended Krozier Technical High School while also working at the Vitalic Battery Company in the battery plant.
Travis’ father passed away in November 1941 at the age of fifty-three. Then his mother and sisters also moved to Texas and bought a little house in Dallas. After graduation from high school, Travis drove a truck for Vitalic Battery. He enjoyed driving all over the United States delivering batteries for several years. Later, he worked keeping books for Babcock Auto Supply in downtown Dallas until he was inducted into the army Dec.1943.
Travis’ military service was from 1943 to 1946. He received medals for service in the American Theater and in the Pacific Theater. During WWII he was a staff sergeant and served with a Marine Corps attachment January 1944 – April 1946.
After his discharge from the service, Travis was self-employed as an auto parts jobber. He also worked for Greenville Avenue Patrol for a while.
When Travis’ sister Mozell brought a school friend home, he was introduced to Edna Fenner, who would be his future bride. The couple married on June 4, 1948, at Cochran’s Chapel Methodist Church in Dallas and honeymooned at Galveston. Their first home was on Burbank Street in Dallas, and Travis worked for Peter Paul Candy Company. Not long after they married, he purchased his first car, a black Chevrolet.
In late 1948, Travis went to work as a film inspector at the new Eastman Kodak processing lab in Dallas, beginning a career that would span 35 years. In 1950, the couple bought their first home on Gaspar Street and their daughter Deborah was born, with son David added to complete the family in 1954. They enjoyed wonderful years at that home and their neighbors became lifelong friends.
Around 1960, the family bought a home on Allegheny Street. Travis and Edna were very involved in activities with their family, church and community. With every interest the kids pursued, they had the support and encouragement of loving parents. Whatever their dream, this father did everything in his power to help make it happen. Summer vacations included many camping trips and good times with the Wheeless relatives at their cabin in Ruidoso and visits with Harley’s family at the coast. Family picnics and fish frys and neighborhood gatherings with friends were special times as well.
The apron strings were loosened when Deb went off to college and then married. Deb and Lee’s baby Belinda was the first grandchild, born in 1970, and they became Granny and Pawpaw! Belinda had them all to herself until 1976 when Cara was born. David finished school, married and before long the family included his twins, Jennifer and Rebecca. Deb and Lee’s son, Jaron, and David and Terry ‘s daughter, Miranda (Andie), and son, Davy, added to the fun. Pawpaw showed his admiration and love for his grandchildren in many ways, encouraging and bragging on their accomplishments. Ask any one of them and they will tell you that they had the best grandpa ever!
When planning his retirement from Kodak, Travis and Edna purchased property on the river in Wimberley and built a beautiful home where they retired in 1983. Those were golden gardening years for Pawpaw. He enjoyed sharing his produce with friends and neighbors and, of course, with family. Even the little ones who said they didn’t like vegetables would eat with relish when told they were Pawpaw’s green beans!
Travis was active in the Masonic Lodge and held several offices through the years including that of Worshipful Master in 1990 during the time they lived in Wimberley.
In 1980, after 30 years with Eastman Kodak, Willey was honored by the company with a special trip to Rochester, New York, where honorees received special recognition and enjoyed touring the Kodak headquarters and a trip through the New England states.
Family and friends were the centerpiece of Travis’ life. A warm and generous man, he was always concerned about others. When company came, he wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable, well-fed and having a good time. Visits from the kids and grandkids were eagerly anticipated. He had a grand time working to manicure the lawn and garden so everything was just right when we arrived. He loved the holidays, especially hanging Christmas lights, much to the delight of the children and grandchildren. In cool months, he’d build a toasty fire in the fireplace or sometimes a bonfire down by the river. In summer, he’d haul out the canoe, air up the inner tubes and get the barbecue pit ready. Those grilled steaks or burgers were so good after a dip in the river! Hand-cranked ice cream or ice cold watermelons were other treats Pawpaw liked to serve out on the deck or patio he had built. Plenty of corn was on hand for feeding the ducks, deer and other wildlife. The grandchildren all remember the tree swings and wonderful ‘rainy day’ swings that he made for them. Other fond memories include wagon rides, walks with our special walking sticks, making firefly lanterns, hanging our personal flags that Granny helped us create, building wood block boats and driving on the lawnmower with Pawpaw.
When it was time to go home at the end of a visit, no one was ever ready to leave, but a peculiar goodbye wave was originated by Pawpaw that made everyone smile. We called it the Willey wave.
Through the years, Pawpaw amused the family with various tall tales of how he lost his big toe. We never did find out the true story of what happened to that toe! But it’s certain that he has a brand new one now in heaven!
Pets were a special part of Travis’ life. These included numerous dogs, from his favorite boyhood hound dog, Fred, to their cocker spaniel, Buttons; Blackie and Nameless; Picca and Dilly; and finally, their dachshund, Flash. Deb’s poodle, Bou, and David’s St. Bernard, Goliath, were long a part of the household; and two special cats, Pandora and Sassafras, also are remembered fondly. He let Deb have her horses and endured the kids’ rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, hermit crabs, turtles, lizards and even pet bugs. In their retirement years, Travis and Edna found pleasure in feeding the wild animals and birds that came around for a handout in Wimberley and Mason.
In retirement, Travis and Edna also enjoyed some very special trips to Mexico and Alaska. They made many new friends in Wimberley while continuing their Dallas friendships. They pursued new interests including the Wimberley Wayside Wanderers Walk Club and the Bluebird Society. Travis served as president of the Wimberley Cemetery Association for two years. Though sometimes reluctantly, Travis helped with many of what he called Granny’s harebrained schemes, even hauling rocks from far and wide to build a rock wall or collecting stumps, driftwood and interesting junk and arranging it to suit her.
The year 1995 saw another move for Travis and Edna, this time to Mason where they built another lovely home. There was no river on their property, so they put in a pool. New friends, places to explore and many house and garden projects kept them busy.
In 2006, health issues precipitated their move to Arlington where they lived in a beautiful home on Hidden Oaks near David. When assisted living became necessary, they moved to Eden Terrace and, more recently, to Autumn Leaves where Mama continues to reside.
Twelve great-grandchildren added to their joy and have kept Pawpaw’s and Granny’s grandparent bragging rights on a high level.
A quiet but faithful servant in the church, Travis was a member of the Harmony Class at Walnut Hill Methodist Church in Dallas. In Wimberley, he and Edna were on a communion service team at Chapel of the Hills. He also enjoyed delivering Meals-on-Wheels and providing transportation for the elderly of the community.
Travis Willey showed his faith in the way he lived. He was a redeemed sinner and his trust was in Jesus. We are so thankful for his life and for his peaceful death, his family writes. We believe he is already enjoying that perfect garden in heaven, probably sharing some beautiful tomatoes with our Lord. May our family circle be unbroken so we will see him again by and by. And then, there will be no more need for that Willey wave goodbye … but we may do it anyway, just for the smiles!