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Stockley leaves a legacy of hope

By Hannah Simpson
Staff Writer 

A memorial service  held Sept. 6 at the Givens Performing Arts Center for the late Professor Travis Stockley included eulogies from some of Stockley’s students, peers and friends.

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Stockley died Aug. 24 in a car accident.

Throughout the service, the Pembroke Singers, Phi Mu Alpha, and the cast of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” sang in celebration of his love of musical theater and teaching.

Dr. Charles F. Harrington, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs described Stockley as one who “emoted hope.”

Harrington thanked Stockley for the blessing he had given with his presence at UNCP.

“He taught and brought and gave hope to thousands of students under his tutelage,” Harrington said. “Hope is a great legacy.”

Family friend

Ross Fraser, a college friend of Stockley’s, arrived from Chicago accompanying Stockley’s sister to celebrate the professor’s life with the students and faculty of UNCP.

“I missed my cue, which would have irritated Travis to no end,” Fraser said, arriving at the podium after the previous musical act had already exited the stage.

Fraser said that he met Stockley during his freshman year at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Members of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity, gathered to perform a Sinfonian hymn, at the memorial service held on Sept. 6 in Givens Preforming Art Center. Stockley was also a member of the music fraternity.

Photo By Hannah Simpson
Members of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity, gathered to perform a Sinfonian hymn,  at the memorial service held on Sept. 6 in Givens Preforming Art Center. Stockley was also a member of the music fraternity.
Fraser said that he had taken an “instant dislike” to Stockley for his desire to major in Theater Arts. However, he and Stockley quickly became best friends.

“Travis and I were probably voted least likely to succeed when we left college,” Fraser laughed.

It was noted that Stockley’s accomplishments include directing over 100 musicals in the U.S., Mexico and Europe.

He also recieved several Best Production awards while directing in Chicago and 11 Joseph Jefferson award nominations for Best Director. “He just wanted to do (theater), and he stopped at nothing to do it,” Fraser said.

Fraser advised the theater students to do what is needed to achieve their goals in the show business career. He also asked for those in attendance to “please take care of your classmates and your friends.”

“I am so happy to have seen what Travis meant to you,” he said.

Fraser also mentioned that another memorial service would be held for Stockley in Chicago, for the “theatre community and college friends.”

Students remember

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PJ Gajda, a theatre student compared Stockley to a tree in the book “The Giving Tree.” Gajda said that Stockley was “very overlooked,” but was always willing to give more of himself.

“He talked a lot, but it was fun to listen to,” Gajda joked. Gajda said that when he prays he talks to Stockley, but his old professor doesn’t seem to talk as much as he used to.

Gajda once told Stockley that he knew he would speak at Stockley’s funeral. Stockley had laughed. “I never knew I’d be this young,” Gajda said.

J. David Crow was the first student to graduate from UNCP’s Musical Theatre program, which Stockley helped create when he came to UNCP from Eastern Carolina University.

“He taught me how to dance,” Crow said, re-enacting several dance moves, to the amusement of the audience. “He also taught me how to laugh at myself.” Crow played the lead in UNCP’s production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” in the spring of 2006. Crow said that Stockley “called us his friends, not just his students.”

“Don’t take any of your time for granted,” Crow said to the theater students.

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“Go for everything full force. That’s how (Stockley) worked.”

Felicia Mangum, another of Stockley’s students, joked that one could never truly get away from Stockley.

Mangum fondly remembered that students would have to run by his office on the way to class, so they would not be late by having to stop and talk with him. Mangum also said that Stockley watched over her “more than anyone in my life.”

“I tried to give up and Travis always told me, ‘Don’t you give up,’” Mangum said.

Remembered by faculty

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Jannette Hopper, associate professor and chair of the Art Department, related her many encounters with Stockley.

“He was always kind of humble and kind of humorous, so I always wanted to hear what he would say,” Hopper said.

Hopper described him as a director who could “take one look at you and tell you what you were good at.” She also said that he was very dedicated to his art. Dr. Janita Byars, professor and chair of the Music Department, said that the presence of those attending the memorial was a “compelling tribute to Travis Stockley.”

She said that the tributes reflect the learning, love and laughter Stockley initiated and gave to UNCP.

“Travis reminded me of the Mad Hatter,” Chancellor Allen C. Meadors said of Stockley’s enthusiasm and zeal for  theater. “Always running around and go, go, go.”

Thomas Leach, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said that Stockley will “forever be an inspiration for those of us fortunate enough to work with him and be taught by him.”

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Updated: Friday, September 15, 2006
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