Frank Travis was born in Tennessee 66 years ago, and raised in a rural community by a hard-working family that was “long on love.” His parents instilled the values of faith, family, personal enterprise and responsibility, a respect for his community and country, and they always encouraged him to develop his talents. “I wasn’t great at sports,” he told me, “although I tried real hard.” He began to cultivate what have gone on to become award winning music, storytelling, and theatrical skills as a result of participating with his childhood church in what was known as “Children Day.” He told me, “It was the one time of the year that kids were to be seen AND heard in church, and I also sang in the choir.” However, it was a little hiding place that he affectionately called “Treasure Island” where he expressed his imagination, learned how to think outside the box, practiced his acting skills, sang to all of creation, wrote, and in general improved his craft.
His career was spent here working at Brown’s Ferry, from which he recently retired, and he came up through the ranks until he was the Assistant Unit Operator, certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He was also a licensed reactor operator, and became a trainer for other up-and-coming assistants. He taught safety, systems, logic, communication skills, and conflict resolution. He had to re-certify in all of those areas as part of his responsibilities, but he found that people began to look to him as an “unofficial arbitrator.” People came to him for counsel, and one of the things he loved to do was help employees who were at odds with each other reach resolution and reconciliation.
The combination of all the skills he was certified to teach at Brown’s Ferry, coupled with having to be continually concerned with the safety of potentially millions of citizens, solidified his leadership skills. Additionally, he became the choral director for the Round Island Male Chorus, a deacon and a Sunday School teacher at Round Island Baptist Church, was chosen the 2013 winner of the local amateur competition held at the annual Storytelling Festival, and is known in our area as “Mr. Poetry” because of his tender and thoughtful poetic treatments of sometimes difficult subjects.
In February of 2016, Frank, along with Athens author Charlotte Fulton, produced a musical drama entitled “Arise and Build,” which was based on Mrs. Fulton’s book called, Hold the Fort. It told the wonderful story of the historic Trinity School, and played to sold-out crowds at the recently remodeled McCandless Performance Hall at Athens State University. That was no small undertaking, but Frank has long been involved in both performing in and directing other productions in the Tennessee Valley.
Sometimes he puts on his Dr. Seuss hat at local elementary schools, other times he gives one-man presentations for older students, and always he tries to teach life lessons. “I was raised to respect the janitor to the CEO,” he told me. I asked him why I should vote for him. He replied, “My ability to communicate.” At Brown’s Ferry, as well as all the other aforementioned venues he became a master at “knowing his audience.” He said, “You may not get what you want, but you know that you were heard.”
He has a vision for serving Athens, and having it become such a model city that it serves to strengthen all of Alabama. Much of that vision comes from a desire “to provide young citizens the opportunity to grow,” especially through the arts. He understands that the arts are important because they constitute a “well-rounded education,” and he said with firmness that “God gives us talents, and allows us to see where they can be used, if we’ll allow Him.” In view of Frank’s passion for the arts, he wants to see the citizens of his district as well as all of Athens utilize Trinity to not only promote the arts, but teach etiquette, entrepreneurial and business skills, and develop well the citizens and leaders of Athens that will be here when we are long gone.
He has been spending this summer learning what is involved in being an Athens City Council member, and has been gaining an understanding of the by-laws, regulations, budgets, finance protocols, state laws, and requirements for economic and educational development in Athens/Limestone County.
He also wanted to express his love and respect for the late Athens City Councilman Jimmy Gill, whose position he seeks to fill. “I can never fill his shoes, but I will give my all to serve all,” he said, and he would appreciate your vote in order to do make that a reality.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner