Pursuant to John's wishes, he has been cremated and a private memorial will be held. Memorial contributions may be made to Centre Crossings Hospice, 2437 Commercial Blvd., State College, PA 16801. Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home in State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com.
He was born June 25, 1935, in Johnstown, Pa. He was the son of the late John and Margaret Price Travis. On July 7, 1960, he married Dorothy McDermott, the love of his life, who survives. John was the father of four loving daughters, Tracy Pruitt and her husband, Kurt, of Hackettstown, N.J.; Stacy Poehler and her husband, Michael, of Hoffman Estates, Ill.; Lori Travis, of Pleasant Gap; and Jan Travis, of Chicago. He also is survived by four grandchildren, Alex and Savannah Pruitt, Karlie Travis and Madison Poehler. He was preceded in death by his sister, Marguerite in 2011.
He was an honor student and graduate of Nanty Glo High School. He was very active in sports and lettered in football and basketball. He received his bachelor's degree in education from Indiana State Teacher's College and master's degree from Penn State University. He served in the United States Air Force Reserves and held many leadership roles in various organizations, Special Olympics, United Cerebral Palsy, Lyons Club and Rotary Club.
John was very intentional in his efforts to advance the field of special education and his entire career was devoted to enhancing the lives of children with special needs. He went on to receive his specialist degree from Western Illinois University. Regarded as a pioneer in the field of special education, he was instrumental in moving children with special needs out of institutions into public schools and into the community.
He was a celebrated teacher, counselor, author and administrator. Although, he began his career in Pennsylvania and returned to Centre County to retire after 35 years in education, for 30 of those years he worked In LaGrange, Ill., and the Quad-Cities. In 1977 until his retirement in 1991, John was the first principal at Black Hawk Area Special Education Center, an innovative school he was so proud to be a part of. He said he always felt honored to work with such extraordinary people. He was an amazing administrator who was loved by his students and faculty.
John had such a positive impact in so many lives. He was known for his quick wit and humor and could find the silver lining in any situation. He was a talented man who exemplified integrity, kindness, and strength. He enjoyed nature and being outdoors. He was an avid fisherman and loved Penn State Football. John never wavered in his attempt to defeat his illness for over seven years. Everyone who knew him was in awe of his grace and courage.
John had so many great life-long friends who remained a special part of his life until the end. Despite all of the pain from his illness, he consistently said, "I am a lucky man and deeply fulfilled." Words cannot convey how wonderful he was.
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