It is with great sadness that WVU’s College of Creative Arts shares the passing of Travis Stimeling, professor of musicology.
Travis David Stimeling of Buckhannon, WV, born April 7th, 1980, passed away in their home in Morgantown, WV, on Tuesday, November 14th, 2023. From the beginning, Travis had music in them. They grew up singing and playing guitar in church and found a path to West Virginia Wesleyan College with their trombone, graduating with a BA in Music in 2001. There, they were under the mentorship of David “Doc” Milburn who was deeply invested in Travis, so much so that Travis lovingly carried on his legacy through their own teaching.
After receiving a Masters in Music History at West Virginia University in 2003 and a PhD in Musicology at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 2007, they taught at Millikin University in Decatur, IL. Eventually, they made their way back home to West Virginia where they taught at WVU and created minors in Appalachian Music and Appalachian Studies. Throughout their career, they advised and mentored thousands of students and colleagues through not only their academic and professional journeys but their personal journeys as well. Travis’s office was always a safe haven for those who needed it.
In addition to being a professor, Travis was a musician, music producer, musicologist, ethnomusicologist, scholar of commercial country and Appalachian traditional music, editor, coauthor, and author of over ten books and numerous articles. Though they had many accomplishments, Travis was most proud of their work with the West Virginia University Bluegrass & Old-Time Ensemble. Travis founded the ensemble in 2014 to show that Appalachian music was just as important and worth studying as the classical music filling the halls of the music school. They prioritized touring the ensemble to the primary schools of West Virginia to nurture love and pride of Appalachian music and the people who make it in the youth of the state. More than that, though, Travis created an inclusive space where people of all walks of life could learn how to play music together as a community. Their motto was always “people first, music second.”
Travis was a beloved member of the old-time, bluegrass, and country music scene in Morgantown, attending local jams with friends and performing locally with the band Half Past Four and as a duo with Mary Linscheid. They are survived by their wife and child, Melanie (Jordan) Stimeling and Chris Stimeling of Morgantown, WV; their parents, Charles and Melissa (Dean) Stimeling of Buckhannon, WV; brother, Daniel Clay Stimeling of High Point, NC; parents-in-law Patricia “Edna” Karickhoff and Paul Karickhoff of French Creek, WV; sister-in-law Jennifer Jordan of Ohio; best friend Mary Linscheid of Morgantown, WV; and countless others whom they loved and who loved them. All who knew Travis can carry on their legacy by being supportive, generous, and loving to others.
A celebration of Travis’s life will take place beginning at 4 p.m. on Thursday, November 30th at The Encore, located at 720 Powell Avenue, Morgantown, WV. Friends are invited to come to share memories, stories, and music. Those who are unable to attend or would like to share a joyful memory of Travis with the family are encouraged to share their stories by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Students needing support should contact the WVU Carruth Center by visiting https://carruth.wvu.edu/ or calling 304-293-4431. The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program is available to support our faculty and staff: https://www.hsc.wvu.edu/fsap/.