Alyssa Sperrazza, News Editor
If a man’s life is measured by how many people he influenced, then Dr. Michael Travers’ life was full indeed.
Students, faculty, friends and family gathered at Immanuel Baptist Church Monday, March 6 at 10 a.m. to honor a professor, coworker and friend.
Dr. Michael Travers passed away last Thursday, March 2, after his battle with cancer.
The community at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) are now remembering and celebrating his life, recalling all the ways Dr. Travers touched their lives.
“I came to campus for a visit in February of 2015, and since I was considering a major in English, the admissions counselor set up an appointment for me to talk with Dr. Travers,”current student Bethany Cole recalled.
“As we began talking about our mutual love for literature, our deep respect for the power of stories and our common desire to integrate our faith with the study of literature, I began to realize that OBU was the place for me to be,” Cole said.
“I attribute my decision in part to that first meeting I had with him, for his desire for himself as a Christian scholar reflected my own.”
Students who had the privilege of having him as a professor know that his knowledge extended beyond literature and taught them so much more than a curriculum.
“Dr. Travers was the first person to ever teach me what it means to not only honor God with your heart and soul, but also your mind,” student Tara McDannel said. “He was a clear example of how I’ve seen the integration of faith and learning in my time here at OBU,” she said.
“He told our class that while we may not be tested or quizzed on all of the daily readings, he strongly believed God desires for us to know the material and do our best in school because He cares about our education,” McDannel said. “Dr. Travers was incredibly kind, wise, and faithful to the Lord. He will be dearly missed, but we can rejoice that the Lord has called him Home.”
Joining the OBU family in 2014, it took no time at all for Dr. Travers to make a difference in student and faculty’s lives.
“From the time he arrived at OBU, Dr. Travers served and led with grace, integrity, humility, and a deep devotion to Christ,” Dr. Brent Newsom, assistant professor of English, said.
“Though he had many other responsibilities, I knew him best as chair of the Division of Language and Literature. He always made time for my colleagues and me, no matter how busy he might have been, and his love for learning and for students was plain to all,” Newsom said. “I appreciate his example of servant leadership.”
His kindness and encouraging spirit was contagious.
“I so appreciate this man,” assistant professor of communication studies and director of forensics and debate Scot Loyd said.
“He was always very kind to me. First, during my time at Louisiana College and then I was pleasantly surprised to reconnect with him at Oklahoma Baptist University,” he said.
“He always had an encouraging word and a warm smile. I was privileged to live across the street from him and his wonderful wife, Barbara. They opened their home to us and made us feel so welcomed,” Loyd said.
“He will be missed, but great is his reward. Dr. Travers was a great Christian thinker, teacher, and servant of God and people,” he said.
“[He was] a man who lived out the tradition of such great thinkers as C.S. Lewis, who he was so fond of quoting,” Loyd said.
“This quote from C.S. Lewis seems especially fitting at this time: ‘Your place in Heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it.’ This is so true of Dr. Michael Travers. Thank you, Dr. Travers for your wonderful example. May blessings of peace comfort your family as we all rejoice in a life well lived and in the hope of a coming Resurrection.”
His thirst for knowledge was inspiring to all and his love of words shared with both students and faculty.
Dr. Travers earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English at McMaster University in Canada.
He went on to earn a degree in education from the University of Western Ontario before also earning a Ph.D. in English from Michigan State University.
His educational expertise influenced many faculty members.
“When I first met Dr. Travers, I was a bit intimidated as he was a brilliant man with an amazingly quick mind,” student publications advisor Holly Easttom recalled.
“Even though I never lost my awe for his intellect and professionalism, he was always so easy to talk to that the intimidation quickly became steadfast respect. He was elegant . . .every word, every gesture thoughtful and deliberate. Words were important to him, and he treated them with deference—that intrinsic elegance he had echoed in every one.”
Even as his cancer progressed, Dr. Travers took what most would consider a burden, and turned it into a tool for learning, honoring the Lord in the midst of a trail.
His faith that he upheld throughout his treatments was a testiment to students and faculty, showing that life’s trials can still be filled with blessings.
“We had multiple conversations about things ranging from our favorite literature, the concept of Christian scholarship, and as his cancer progressed, we shared ways in which God had encouraged us through the trials in our lives,” Cole said.
“Not only that, but my siblings and I were blessed to enjoy the Travers’ hospitality last January for a faculty open house, and the time we spent with them was so refreshing.”
Travers’ love for his wife was clear to all and you rarely saw the two separate.
“Aside from visiting with him personally, I think the thing I will miss the most about Dr. Travers is seeing his interaction with Mrs. Travers,” Cole said. “It always brought a smile to my face to see them walking to and from the cafeteria together each day. They were always the picture of a lady and a gentleman, and it was obvious that their daily ritual brought them joy.”
A verse Dr. Travers quoted often was Lamentations 3:22-23:
“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”
His testament of faith will be remembered by all who knew and loved him.
In honor of his memory, his family asked, instead of flowers, that donations be made to the Gideons International, an organization that provides free Bibles to all.
They are often recognized for placing Bibles in hotel rooms for whomever may come across them.
You can donate in honor of Dr. Travers’ memory by going to www2.gideons.org/donate.