Sky Scene 06

Travis Lee Hatcher

April 1, 1969 ~ December 31, 2023 (age 54) 54 Years Old

Travis Lee Hatcher Obituary

Travis Lee Hatcher, resident of a Cardinal Group Home, Gotham Lane, in Rochester, MN., and former resident of Stewartville, MN., died peacefully on 12/31/2023 at Mayo Clinic- Methodist Hospital- Rochester campus. He was surrounded by family and the loving presence of his pastor, as Travis awaited his appointment time to be at the Pearly Gates of Heaven. Friends and Family may have wanted more time with him on Earth, but God was calling Travis home.

Words of comfort upon my passing: 

Travis was born on 4/1/1969 in Rochester, MN., the sixth of seven kids of Ronald and Barbara Hatcher. His birth delivery at Olmsted Community Hospital was assisted by the Stewartville town doctor, Dr. Alden Risser. Stewartville, at the time, was a place where everyone seemed to know everyone. It may not be an overstatement that “everyone” in the town did know Travis.

Travis’s parents grew up in the small Nebraska towns of Elm Creek and Cozad. As many may be familiar, Nebraska’s motto is “The Good Life”. Just like Travis’s parents, Travis would have a good life.

There is a saying that goes, “it takes a village”. This certainly applied to Travis’s journey in life. Travis was born with a condition known as Prader Willi Syndrome. This would be diagnosed around the age of 2 or 3. As a result of this syndrome, Travis loved to eat and was never full. He would continuously seek out food, including the time he was in the Stewartville IGA grocery store shopping with his mom. Travis was upset with not getting some type of food and he proceeded to the aisle with the ketchup. At the time, ketchup was in glass bottles and Travis went on to smash all the bottles in that area of the store. In most towns or cities, the store owner would have insisted on being reimbursed for the cost of the ketchup. Not in the small town of Stewartville, where everyone knew everyone. Travis’s mom was told to just get him home safely.

It was surprising the family home on Fourth Ave. NE in Stewartville was large enough for 7 kids and their parents., but somehow they found the space needed. There were many nights some of the kids, including Travis, slept outside in the backyard during the hot days of Summer due to the house having no air conditioning. Sure the younger kids, Toni (known as Tone to Travis) , Billy (known as “B” to Travis) and Travis would spend time arguing over “who” got to race the fastest hot wheel car when they set up a racetrack using the 3 flights of stairs in the home or how many more times are they going to take  a gym mat or cardboard boxes and slide down the 3 flights of carpeted stairs? A memory that stands out of the three youngest kids (including Travis) was listening to the song, Kung Fu Fighting, and practicing Karate in the living room. Travis’s parents were both musicians, so music of all types flowed throughout his home. Travis loved music. It wasn’t unusual to see Travis jamming to his tunes while putting a jigsaw puzzle together. 

Love and care permeated from within the Stewartville community. Older sisters, Shari (also known as Shar by Travis) and Linda (also known as La La by Travis), would be seen pushing Travis and his younger brother, Billy, in strollers to the Parlour, owned by the Gray family, and other spots around town.The sisters started doing this at ages 10 and 12 to help their parents in caring for the 5 other kids in the family. All of Travis’s siblings, including Steve (also known as Teve by Travis) and Roger (also known as Roj by Travis) played a critical part in his care as he grew up.

Travis would go on to attend Central Elementary School and the high school in Stewartville after Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA) in 1975.  A few of his educators that played a pivotal role in Travis learning to read and write include Cathy Meinhardt, Mary Rauh, Sue Paske, LaRae Podein Bushman, Deb Slonker, Barb Hill, and other very dedicated staff. With Travis’s family never knowing if he would be able to learn these skills, it was the most beautiful thing to see. Travis was known to always have a Bible close-by to write Bible verses on his colored index cards throughout the day.

Summer weekends were oftentimes spent fishing on Lake Pepin in Lake City, MN. It wasn’t unusual for Travis’s dad to load up a bunch of the kids in his topper pick-up and hook up the red and white boat to spend a day at the lake. There were times Travis’s dad must have been in a serious fishing mood, he would drop Travis and his siblings off at BuckSnort Dam with a can of corn to fish and come back hours later to ask if they had caught anything. Travis would go on to be a pretty good fisherman as depicted by a more recent video of him catching a “big one” on a river in the area.

Eventually, Travis would move to the town of Red Wing, MN., to reside at Vasa Children’s Home up until his graduation from Red Wing Central HIgh School on June 8th, 1990. All of his siblings, his parents and grandmother from Nebraska, Esther Hatcher, attended his high school graduation. Many tears were shed over this achievement. Red Wing, just like Stewartville, had embraced Travis and accepted him within their community.

While residing in Red Wing, he would have weekend home visits. His Mom would make the drive to Red Wing to bring him “home”. It was during these home visits, Travis would attend the Baptist Bible Church of the Hanson family of Stewartville. The church’s children’s ministry bus would pick up Travis and sometimes his brother, Billy, to attend church services and bible school. The Hanson family had been such a strong comfort for Travis’s mom during the tough times of raising Travis. Eventually, an infant riding the children’s ministry bus with Travis early on, would go on to become his current Pastor at the Midwest Bible Baptist Church in Rochester. Travis attended the same church for 41 years and was very active with the Children’s Ministry. Pastor Caleb Hanson was with Travis in the last hours of Travis’s life, praying, reciting Bible verses, talking about Heaven and how everyone has an appointment date at the Pearly Gates that only God knows the timing. Travis’s family will be forever grateful for Pastor Hanson’s bible lessons through the years, so Travis had an understanding of Heaven and dying.

After Travis’s passing, his family and friends know he is now in Heaven, but as a devoted Green Bay Packers fan, he may have already seen a slice of Heaven when he attended a Packers game at Lambeau field, thanks to the generosity of Rochester community member, Mike Schiller, donating season tickets to PossAbilities, Travis’s employer of many years. In addition to the tickets, Mr. Schiller graciously provided lodging at his cabin in Iola, WI. which was located on a beautiful lake. To hear Travis’s pure joy while the family was traveling to Green Bay can be captured by his saying, “Whee…” every time they went around a corner on a winding road. There were lots of winding roads on their journey to see the Packers. Travis’s words that will forever echo in so many people’s minds are, “Go Pack Go”.

Some of the many opportunities Travis had in his local community were attending a variety of Rochester Community Ed classes and activities, Park and Rec. activities, Special Olympics, and the famous “Cardinal Idol” at the Mayo Civic Center. This past year, Travis was the lead performer at the talent show singing, “Ghostbusters” and of course, “Go Pack Go”. For  Special Olympics, Travis loved to swim. His family was in attendance when he attended the State event in St. Paul to compete. His family will always treasure these memories and the accepting communities of Rochester and beyond.

When Travis was in the process of moving from Red Wing back to the Rochester community, Travis’s mom met a couple, Jack Priggen and Buff Hennessey, that provided the soothing guidance on finding an appropriate setting for Travis to reside. Travis’s family will be forever indebted to Jack and Buff for their love and support shared out of genuine care. Travis would live in both REM and Cardinal of MN group homes within Rochester. For the last 20 plus years, Travis resided in Cardinal of MN Diamond Ridge, Northern Heights and finally, Gotham Lane homes. Travis was honored to have the opportunity to name his last home, Gotham Lane, as Travis was a true Batman fan.

Travis, along with Buff, have been the longest time employees of ARC of SE MN. Travis worked over 30 years at ARC with his desk decorated with a Green Bay mug and was responsible for folding and sending out any mailings.There isn’t any type of machine that could more accurately fold an 8 ½ by 11 inch paper into a trifold than Travis. He was a very dedicated employee rarely missing any Thursday morning at ARC.

Travis’s siblings, Toni, Linda and Billy were Travis’s co-guardians in his final years of life. During the court hearing to appoint Billy as co-guardian, the siblings learned Travis had the “right” to vote. This was a surprise to the family, but during the hearing, when the judge asked Billy and Toni if they wanted Travis to retain the “right” to vote, both siblings replied, “Yes”. One sibling reassured the judge, they would get Travis to the polls to vote and they did.

With Travis working at ARC of MN, PossAbilities and active in the Rochester community, he seemed to “know” the candidates on the ballot. Many people running for public office would visit Travis’s places of employment, drop in at a community event Travis was attending, or knock on the door of his home to talk with him about his concerns. Travis’s sister, Toni, was so proud of her brother Travis's advocacy activities in the community and in St. Paul. Travis would attend the Disability Lobby Day at the capitol in St. Paul many times to request higher wages and better staff benefits for the organizations and companies working with individuals with disabilities. One last community event Travis attended was an ISAIAH of MN forum in Oct. of 2023 and he spoke about the need for higher wages, better benefits, more staff and how he wanted to go back to work at PossAbilities, yet the program didn’t have the staffing. Travis was dressed in suit and tie to speak to an audience of around 250 people, including 18 of our elected officials. Travis loved to sing and in this spirit, he sang his comments to the attendees. In Travis’s and his family’s eyes, the “true heroes” in the world are working with individuals with disabilities. Travis was able to share this message of love with the world.

Travis’s love of the world included his love for any, yes, any, dog or cat. He shared a bond with a number of dogs and cats through the years that he or his siblings had as pets (CIndy, CoCo, Marble, FiFi, Bowser, Twinkie,Popeye, Susie, Oreo, Duke, Daisy, Puck, Husker, Boo, Karma, Blondie, Spook, Isis, Pandemonium, Jazmine, AnnaBelle, Sequoi, Aspen, Misty Blue, Alexis, Bella, Hello Dolly and many others). 

Recently, Travis’s church honored him by naming their new bus, “The Travis Hatcher Children’s Ministry Bus”. Travis’s family members attended this dedication and could see the outpouring of support Travis received from his loving, faithful church community. Cardinal of Minnesota staff, during that same church service, had also presented the Children’s Ministry Team a “Good Neighbors” award for having faithfully visited Travis at his home every Saturday for a number of years.

Travis had a very memorable family trip to Nebraska in the yr. 2021. The trip was to attend his uncle’s funeral. Travis’s mom knew how important it was for her kids to reconnect in-person with their extended family in Nebraska. Travis and his siblings would need their relatives in Nebraska love and support after Travis’s mom’s death. Travis’s siblings are so grateful for their mom’s foresight. The trip was a beautiful gift for the remaining family. We can also draw on the extended family’s support after Travis’s passing. For this, the family is so grateful.

Travis is survived by sisters, Shari Anderson of Zumbrota, MN; Linda VanSickle of Oronoco, MN; Toni Kay Mangskau (George Romano) of Rochester, MN. Brothers, Steve Hatcher of GulfPort, MS; Roger Hatcher of Rochester, MN; Billy Hatcher (Jolene Hatcher) of Rochester, MN. Nephews, Brandon (Krista) Anderson, Jason VanSickle, Cody VanSickle, Travis Dakota Hatcher, Zach Hatcher, Nicholas Mangskau, Justice Casey, Gunner Anderson, Logan Anderson, Ryan Vomhof, Tyler Vomhof. Nieces,Kristy (Jeff) Vomhof, Valerie Mangskau, Faith Townsell, Grace Liberty Mangskau, Kaitlyn Vomhof, Emily Vomhof, Alyssa Vomhof. Aunts and Uncles, Mattie and Larry Peterson, Jim and Lynn Hatcher, Kurt and Twyla Gengenbach, Barb Hatcher. Cousins, Creig and Cayla Anderson, Richard and Kandy Anderson, Jo Keim, Shawda Hatcher, Shane Hatcher, Shiloh Hatcher, Jill Keiser, Brian Hatcher, Kanda Jo Gengenbach, Kayla Jo Gengenbach, Karrie Jo Gengenbach, Noah Hatcher, Miranda Hatcher, Gavin Hatcher, Suzanne Peterson, Amanda Peterson. Travis was preceded in death by his parents - Barbara and Ronald Hatcher, maternal grandparents - Roger and Helen Peterson, paternal grandparents - Corwin and Esther Hatcher, special Aunt Bev and husband Dick Anderson, Aunt Margaret Peterson, Uncle Cory Hatcher and Uncle Gary Hatcher.

The family would like to sincerely thank the very loving, compassionate care provided by Cardinal of MN, PossAbilities, ARC of SE MN, the congregation of the Midwest Bible Baptist Church and Mayo Clinic including the hospice staff of Unit 74 at Rochester Methodist Hospital. You helped  create the peacefulness and joy that Travis had on his life’s journey here on Earth.

When we remember Travis, we also should remember that one person can have a very impactful presence in the lives of so many people. Travis will always be remembered for the joy he brought to the world. We are sad to let Travis go, but we have something tangible to hold onto. We can all be grateful to tell people, he was my brother, uncle, cousin, nephew and friend.

Funeral visitation and service will take place at Midwest Bible Baptist Church, Rochester, MN. Visitation on Thursday, 1/11/2024, from 5pm to 7pm and service on Friday, 1/12/2024, at 11am. Lunch will follow the service.  The service will be live streamed on the Midwest Bible Baptist Church Facebook and YouTube channels. Memorials can be directed to PossAbilities of Southern Minnesota, Paws and Claws Humane Society and Midwest Bible Baptist Church (to establish a missionary scholarship in Travis’s honor). Arrangements are with Griffin-Gray Funeral Home in Stewartville. Condolences and memories of Travis are welcome at www.griffin-gray.com

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Services

Visitation
Thursday
January 11, 2024

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Midwest Bible Baptist Church, Rochester

Funeral Service
Friday
January 12, 2024

11:00 AM
Midwest Bible Baptist Church, Rochester

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