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Don Travis: an educator who championed vocational and AP programs

By Steve Ranson Nevada News Group
Don Travis

Don Travis Sr., a retired educator who championed vocational education and a solid academic curriculum at Churchill County High School by implementing Advanced Placement classes died Dec. 21 at the age of 89 after a short illness.

A service will be conducted for the former CCHS principal on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Parkside Bible Fellowship.

Travis spent more than 30 years as an educator in Churchill County after graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1958. While at Nevada, Travis was involved in agriculture (ag) science and served as the Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN) president during his senior year. One of his classmates and fraternity brothers of Alpha Tau Omega University was former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, who remembers Travis’ run to become ASUN president.



“We put up a write-in campaign for Don, and he won,” Bryan said in an interview with the LVN. “Don was very active.”

Over the years Bryan visited Fallon often, first as a friend of Travis in college and during his later years as attorney general, governor and senator. He said Travis represented the best of rural Nevada and their friendship remained strong.



Travis’ family originally lived in San Bernardino County, Calif., before relocating to Fallon in the late 1930s. His father “fixed up” farms and worked with a federal land bank to resell the property. The youngest of five siblings, Travis had four sisters. They attended Harmon School and seventh and eighth grades at Oats Park and then the Old High School on South Maine Street for grades 9-12.

Because of his involvement with FFA at the high-school level and for being elected the national vice president, Travis spent a summer in England as a teenager learning about that country’s farms and livestock. After returning from the British Isles, Travis worked on a farm for four years before attending the University of Nevada. After graduating in 1958, he accepted a teaching position in Fallon where he taught math and ag science before transferring to the high school to teach the same subjects plus adult education.

He and Simmie Cooper, a Sparks native who graduated from the university in 1957, married that same year. She was also offered a teaching job in Fallon in 1958.

For the last 21 years of his education career, he served as principal of the high school and retired in 1989 after spending one year at the repurposed site where the former Minnie Blair school was built. Under his tenure, the high school offered a number of career-oriented courses, provided organizations that supported students at that time in the ag program, business, home economics and student council as well as beginning AP courses in science, math and English.

Travis was also involved with the community having served on numerous commissions.

Teacher and president of the Greenwave Hall of Fame, Steve Heck said Travis was his high school principal.

“I also worked for him on his ranch from time to time when I was younger,” Heck said. “Awesome man. He believed in discipline, but I never saw him lose his cool. He was fair to everyone.” 

The late Edward Arciniega served as the high-school’s athletic director when Travis was principal. Arciniega’s daughter Julie said Travis was a great man, and she will miss him dearly.

Surviving Travis are his wife of 63 years, Simmie; adult children Matt and Carolyn (Travis) Lister, Don Jr. and Betsy (Henry) Travis, Mike and Monica (Travis) Hinz, Craig and Judy (Olson) Travis; grandchildren Matt Travis, Katie Sitler, Jenni Travis, Kenny Travis, Drew Travis, Ben Travis, Kevin Hinz, Emily (Hinz) Dawson, and three great grandchildren with one on the way.