Weatherford Democrat

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August 6, 2012

Mother starts scholarship as way to heal

PARKER COUNTY — There are dozens of condolence cards in a box. There’s a decorative bonsai tree in a corner of the breakfast nook off the kitchen. At the top of the stairs, there’s a photo of him.

Travis George smiles in the photo taken by Parker County photographer Megan Parks. He’s dressed in a suit, but he looks relaxed, happy.

And, that’s who he was, said his mother, Joy George.

After the 21-year-old died suddenly and tragically, his mother was left with a lot of reminders of her son and how he touched others. From the cards that came from her coworkers — including a personalized note from the CEO of her company — to the bonsai tree that friends of Travis gave her — reminiscent of his love of the Asian culture — to the photo that hangs above the staircase — which was made into a canvas print from Parks’ photo and put in a frame donated by Chris and Barbara Hummel, all within three days and in time for Travis’ memorial service.

Yet, George knew that something more was needed.

While she couldn’t speak at her son’s funeral, the grief still too overwhelming at that point, she later wrote him a letter.

“There is a hole in my heart,” she wrote in that letter.

While nothing will ever be able to fill the void there that her son occupied, what George decided to do after Travis’ death will go on to help others for years to come. As she continues her grief, she also finds strength in preparing for a golf fundraiser on Sept. 9 at Canyon West. Proceeds from that, coupled with a donation from Travis’ employer and some donations from family and friends, will go into a fund to establish a scholarship at Weatherford College.

“I would like to try to help someone in this community,” George said, noting that Weatherford is still a hometown community where people are close.

Always happy

George rarely saw her son in a bad mood, she recalled. Even as a child, he was just happy.

“We could go to the park with no friends — and then just end up with all these friends,” she said, noting how gregarious her son was.

By the time he got to high school, he was a hard worker who volunteered at the Pythian Home Haunted House, worked at Brookshire’s grocery store and helped younger children learn to play the saxophone.

“He just loved music,” George said, who added that her son could play saxophone, keyboard and guitar.

That love of music extended far beyond typical pop music that teens and young adults like — he even enjoyed classicial.

“He went to Bass Hall by himself,” George recalled with a slight smile. “He didn’t care, he just loved music.”

In her letter to her son, she thanks him for showing her how to be carefree and enjoy life. Because those were the qualities that defined Travis, he mother said.

He started attending college at Weatherford College in order to knock out some basic courses, but then transfered to the University of North Texas in Denton to study music.

But, one day, that carefree spirit kicked in and he said, “Mom, I’m going to move to Austin.”

Apprehensive at first, George also watched her son take charge of his destiny. He got a job lined up and a roommate in order to ensure he could afford to make the move.

He’d recently moved when he called her on July Fourth to say he felt he was coming down with bronchitis. She told him to take it easy and try to find an emergency room or urgent care where he could be seen. Later, he texted to say he was feeling a bit better.

As planned, George, her boyfriend and daughter, went to Las Vegas on a family trip, not knowing what was to come.

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