By Chukwuma E. Anyanwu.
April 20, 2016.
Right about four weeks ago, my wife informed me that Travis Wilson had passed away. The ever thoughtful and considerate Dr. Hammons had figured a way to soft-land the news this tragic loss. Travis was my boss for a good part of my tenure at the job I held for the longest so far in my work life.
When I began my IT career in the mid 90s, I was as green as they come. My first boss was a soft-spoken, mild-mannered, kind-hearted, moustached gentleman named Howard Hoover. Howard was simply a genius. He seemed to know everything and was in my view a benevolent IT god! I was able to learn very much from Howard because he allowed himself to be approachable and accessible and instructed in a manner that was not in any way condescending as some would’ve been under the same circumstances. He encouraged me incessantly and let me know I wouldn’t always get it right, but to make sure I don’t repeat mistakes. When I asked him how he came to know everything, the very humble Howard smiled and told me the smartest people were oftentimes just simply the ones who knew where to look. He was just an overall great guy. So you can imagine my grief when one day, Howard suddenly had to leave to take advantage of an irresistible opportunity. I was like the bereaved. I had just lost a father fi gure. I cherished the short time I had under his tutelage while at the same time resigned to the fact that i’d never again be privileged to meet one like Howard. And then I met Mr. Travis Wilson!
First of all, compared to Travis, most IT people, even the seasoned ones, are green. Dark green! Travis was everything Howard, plus, like they say, a bag of chips! If the man had an ego, then he clearly performed an Oscar-worthy act to keep it at bay! There’s not a single prideful bone in that man. Travis was a genius, not only because of his God-given abilities, but also because he worked really hard at his craft! He always diligently invested the time and effort to investigate and understand new and upcoming technologies in such a way as to be able to disseminate it to us, mere IT mortals, like a bird feeds its young. Travis was a man of and for the people and availed himself to any and everybody, such that oftentimes there was a queue of knowledge seekers right outside his office. I kid you not! Dr. Hammons repeatedly admonished and counselled him on the need to “just say no” every now and again – all to no avail.
Travis was kind and loyal to a fault. He made a conscious effort to deflect the glory and own the snafus. He didn’t see any low-performing employee that wasn’t redeemable. He was always very protective of his people. The gentle giant didn’t take kindly to his people being harassed or bullied. He was a consistent shield from external assaults! And I don’t even want to make any mention of his punctuality. Ok, you asked for it! Travis was on seat 4am every working day and worked 12-hour days, where 8 hours would’ve sufficed. And he didn’t do that just for the heck of it. No. He was way too deliberate for that. He showed up in the wee hours so he could delve into the lingering problems from yesterday and set the groundwork for today. And also for the equally important purpose of providing us all with the very latest and best weather and traffic advisories – better than the local channels combined!
So you see, Travis was indeed a father figure to many!
And an avid family man – a doting father to his lovely son Austin and a loving husband to his beautiful wife Sheila.
A casual reader might be tempted to wonder, “can this Travis guy be for real”? Or “could this just be a kind eulogization to the departed”? But I make bold to say this; there are perhaps many things you can manufacture about a man. Character and integrity aren’t two of them! Donald Trump will pass one day and nobody will say of him that “there goes a modest and humble man”! Nor would they say of Ted Cruz “oh what a malleable and friendly lad he was”.
Travis is too good to be true and yet is true. A fairy tale, except it’s for real!
You marvelous former colleagues who have had the pleasure of sharing oxygen with Travis, I commiserate with ou, especially you, Mr. B.C, a true brother to Travis. And same to you, my boss of bosses, Dr. Hammons. You have lost a gem. The industry has lost a gem. The world has lost a gem. And that is why he must live on. We all must arise and scream from our laptops and shout from the rooftops, at the top of our lungs and tell the story of Travis, for ourselves and for posterity. So that we can bear testimony to our descendants, to take heed and be in remembrance, that the world needs Hoovers, that the world needs Travises. And there’s no reason it can’t be them!
Travis Wilson died on March 15, 2016, due to complications resulting from a stroke he suffered a few months earlier. He was just 45.