Dr. Travis Stimeling headed up the review committee for the Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholar academic award for a number of years and was also a faithful supporter of the IBMA Foundation’s Arnold Shultz Fund since its inception in 2020. We will miss Travis greatly and are honored to share his obituary below, employing his preferred use of the pronoun “they.”
Travis David Stimeling of Buckhannon, West Virginia, born April 7, 1980, passed away at home in Morgantown, WV, on Tuesday, November 14, 2023. From the beginning, Travis grew up singing and playing guitar in church and found a path to West Virginia Wesleyan College with a 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 the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2007, Dr. Stimeling taught at Millikin University in Decatur, IL. Eventually, they made their way back home to West Virginia, where they taught at WVU, creating 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 more than 10 books and numerous articles. Though they had many accomplishments, Travis was most proud of their work with the West Virginia University Bluegrass and 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. 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. Dr. Stimeling’s 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 in a duo with Mary Linscheid. Travis is survived by their wife and child, Melanie (Jordan) Stimeling and Chris Stimeling of Morgantown, WV; 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 took place November 30 in Morgantown, WV. Those who were unable to attend are encouraged to share their stories by sending an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can make a donation in memory of Dr. Stimeling to the IBMA Foundation’s Arnold Shultz Fund.
RETURN to the December 2023 issue of The Cornerstone.