Charles Travers

Monday, December 10, 2007

LCDR Charles W. Travers passed away on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007, at Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau.

Charles was born in Puxico, Mo., on June 3, 1934, to Henry and Alma Siler Travers. His parents and his older brother, James M. Travers, preceded him in death.

He graduated from Puxico High School in 1951 as valedictorian; attended Southeast Missouri State University for two years and worked at McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis and Boeing in the Los Angeles area. Building airplanes and watching others fly them was not fulfilling his personal dream, so when he had the opportunity, he enrolled in a special Naval Flight Program. Charles entered the United States Navy NAVCAD flight program in Pensacola, Fla., in May of 1954 and fulfilled his childhood dream of flying. Aviation continued to be his passion throughout his entire life. Later, while stationed in California, Charles was able to complete his Bachelor of Science degree in economics from LaVerne University in LaVerne, Calif.

On July 5, 1959, Charles married Barbara Lackey in Sikeston, Mo., who survives. They were blessed with two daughters, Melanie (Tom) Hickey of Lake St. Louis, Mo., and Melissa (Mark) Whitaker of Oak Ridge, and two grandchildren, Erin and Line Whitaker. He is further survived by his sister-in-law, Patricia Travers of Zephyrhills, Fla., and three nephews; one niece; two great-nephews; and three great-nieces.

Charles served his country proudly as a naval aviator for 20 years, flying mostly military transport planes, accumulating in excess of 15,000 hours in the air as an aircraft commander. His trips took him to numerous countries on almost every continent where he was able to observe many different cultures and learn to appreciate our similarities as well as our differences.

His stateside duties included a tour of duty in Pensacola from 1961 to 1965 where he flew the support aircraft (Navy 8) for the Blue Angel precision flight team.

Prior to and during the Vietnam War (1963-1971) he flew support missions throughout Southeast Asia, making trips to almost every airfield in South Vietnam. For this he was awarded the medals of Navy Achievement, Air, National Defense service, Vietnam Service with Star, and Vietnam Campaign with Device. He never lost faith in or respect for the men he carried into and out of the battle zone -- he always kept them in his heart and never forgot their valiant service to our country.

Charles retired from the Navy in May 1974 and returned to the family farm in Oak Ridge, where he raised cattle and worked at Rockwell Corporation in the Sabreliner Division in Perryville, Mo. In 1982, the Traverses moved to Jackson and he worked for Motorcycle Stuff in Cape Girardeau for several years. This employment also allowed him to embrace his interest in bikes, travel throughout the Heartland and learn more about the customs of local communities. He worked as a tax consultant and preparer for H&R Block in Cape Gir-ardeau, Jackson and New Madrid, Mo., for a majority of the last 20 years.

Charles was a member of the Kinder General Baptist Church as a youth and always held it in a special place in his heart. He also was a 50-year member of the Masonic Lodge No. 596 in Puxico, as well as a member of American Legion Post 158, Altenthal-Joernes.

In his retirement years, he was actively involved in volunteer efforts at the Missouri Veterans Home of Missouri, the Alzheimer's Association and the American Red Cross. He also encouraged organ donation. Donations in lieu of flowers to any of these organizations are welcomed.

He will be missed greatly by his family, friends and co-workers, but their lives have been enriched by his intellect, his humor and his tender heart.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007, at Cracraft-Miller Funeral Home in Jackson. The Rev. Jimmie Corbin will officiate. Friends may call from 10 a.m. until the time of the service at the funeral home. Burial will follow the service at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bloomfield, Mo., with full military honors. The Veterans' Patriots Motorcycle honor guard will attend the services.

The Little Aviator

Boys had boats, their favored toy -- Not I when I was just a boy.

I dreamt of wings for soaring high for cutting wakes in yonder sky.

And where my hero's footsteps went -- I'd follow in the firmament.

-- Gayla Wiedenheft