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Rebecca “Travis” Gay, Teton Valley Mother Who Lived with Grace, Dies at 46
Rebecca “Travis” Gay, died Oct. 26th, 2022 at her home in Alta, Wyo. at the age of 46. The cause of her death was colon cancer. For six and a half years she danced with the unwanted partner (cancer) with the same grace and beautiful spirit she carried through her entire life.
During cancer treatments, Travis went to a comedy show. One had to walk through a casino to arrive at the theatre. Though not a gambler, she stopped at the blackjack table and was dealt two hands of twenty-one in a row. The man next to her yelled, “You sure are lucky!” He couldn’t have known that she had just survived a dozen surgeries and the loss of both her parents.
But she didn’t just keep it together during her 2,253 days with cancer. She took all those around her on a journey filled with love, inspiration and life lessons.
Travis was born April 23, 1976 in Savannah, Ga. and raised in South Carolina. She excelled at high school and college sports. Before going to Hollins University in Virginia, she went on a wilderness trip in Alaska with The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). The trip changed her life and she returned the next three summers to work in Alaska for NOLS.
At Hollins University, she studied psychology, fine-tuned her ability to connect with people and made lifelong friends.
Travis was super competitive and had fond memories of playing ultimate frisbee in the midnight sun of Alaska. It must have been one of those summer nights when she hatched her plan to leave the south. In 1998, she moved to Teton Valley, Idaho/Wyoming and spent the rest of her life there. Her grandmother’s hopes that she would return home and be a debutante vanished.
In 1998, Travis married Jeremy Caulkins. They had two children: Emma Travis Caulkins born in 1999 and Archer Dane Caulkins, born in 2002. They later divorced.
While raising two young children Travis received her masters in social work from Walla Walla University and went on to work at the Teton Science School’s Journeys School and Teton Behavioral Therapy. Travis was passionate about education and helping those with learning differences.
She also thrived at the challenge of being a single mother. Once, she had a dream about an Irish mandolin player. Though not Irish, he did show up. She spent the last fifteen years of her life with mandolin player Thomas Sneed. The couple married in 2013 and welcomed their son, James Guthrie Sneed in 2014.
Travis had an amazing web of cherished friends from all phases of her life. While some were with her for decades and some she met as recently as last week, they all felt close to her. Their deep loyalty is a testament to Travis’ unbound generosity.
Travis raised her older children into fine adults and a toddler into a loving young man. She taught us about the power of plant-based eating, fasting, cold plunging and dancing in the living room of her home in Alta, Wyo., which was formerly the NOLS Petzoldt lodge.
She leaves behind her husband and three children, as well as a brother, Charles Clark Gay III, and a sister Susan Sadler Stafford. There will be a celebration of life in the coming months. In lieu of flowers please send donations to:
The Esselstyn Family Foundation (a public charity that promotes plant based nutrition, www.
Mountain Roots Education (school gardens and workshops in sustainable living, www.
Teton Valley Trails and Pathways, www.tvtap.org.
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