Travis Kirby is dearly missed in our family at Mt. Juliet. He was born in Macon County, Tennessee, two days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was one of the eldest of ten children. He grew up in Lafayette playing football and enjoying fishing. His siblings remember one particular night of football when Travis scored three touchdowns in one game. But it was fishing that he continued to love for the rest of his life. His boat was appropriately named “Magnet.” As a young man he worked in garment factories in Macon and Trousdale counties. While there his sister, Fran, urged another young lady name Lou to go out with her brother Travis. They did. They were married in 1963 enjoying 50 years together. They were blessed with a precious daughter and named her Cindy. When she was two they moved to Indiana for Travis to work in construction and he worked there for 22 years. Then they decided to move south and Travis continued in construction work, first working with new housing construction. Finally they settled in Mt Juliet and he worked for the Wilson County Road Commission for 18 years. He was highly respected and greatly loved by his fellow construction workers. Their words of admiration, support and friendship would cause any of us to hope to make similar impacts on the people that we are around daily.
Travis was a strong man of great conviction. But he also had the gift of being approachable. He was funny, loveable, direct, truthful, genuine, peaceful, disciplined, rugged, jolly, pleasant, inviting, considerate, servant, honest, and most important of all, ready to depart.
There were three great loves in his life. All three were through relationships.
First, Travis loved his work and was deeply appreciated and highly respected by his co-workers. He had done construction work for 44 years. He was skilled. He could swat a fly off of a baby’s nose with a backhoe. He proved himself to be a man of great integrity. But it wasn’t the construction that he loved the most. It was the relationship he would build with the other construction workers that made his work special. After his passing I was at his house when a younger co-worker came by. The worker spoke to Travis’ brother Steve, by describing Travis as, “One of the finest men I have ever known.” He went on to describe how Travis was able to help the younger guys learn their work without telling them every move to make, yet always willing to help.
Also Travis loved his family and was loved by them. Many of his siblings looked up to their “big brother.” Some of them said that the older he grew the more he became like his father. One brother explained, “He was the best big brother a little brother could ever want.” He also loved Lou and Cindy so deeply. Travis and Lou began with very little and gave birth to a daughter who had to spend much time in a hospital. They faced challenges and times of barely getting by financially in those early days, but they loved each other and persevered. They have always been servants to each other. His love for Cindy was precious. It is hard to not see Travis here in our family, but what makes this bearable is that he loved his Lord and the church. He is truly missed. As Don Collins said “I loved when he went before the church to lead a prayer. I loved to hear him pray.” He also was a good bass singer. Years ago he led singing from time to time. His devotion to the study of God’s word was impressive. He would stand on and speak of the Holy Word of God often and to whomever would listen. One of the favorite pictures of him was taken during lunch hour on a construction site. He was sitting in his truck with the door wide open, one leg swung out of the truck, and his hardhat sitting comfortably on his head as an opened Bible rested on the steering wheel. Lou took this picture one day as she was dropping off lunch to him. This was a daily sight at lunch. Think of that picture. He was at a job he loved, with the Word of God that he loved, grateful that the wife he loved had dropped off his lunch. And as you would expect in this picture, his face had the most pleasant expression. He knew he was a blessed man. And all of us that knew him are blessed too! I miss the man and his thought provoking comments that often followed a lesson. But by faith and hope I believe that we will have more wonderful conversations about things far more amazing than I understand at this time. Our prayers and deep sympathy continue for Lou, Cindy, and all the family. We love you.