Jackson Hole, WY News

Obituary - Travis Ziehl

Travis Ziehl

A celebration of life for Jackson resident Travis Martin Ziehl is planned for April 12 at Hole Bowl. More details will follow in coming weeks.

Ziehl died peacefully on Feb. 11, surrounded by loved ones at Hospice of the Valley in Phoenix. He was 37.

His family provided the following.

Travis was born on July 9, 1981, in Casper to Jeffrey and Cheryl (Heikkila) Ziehl. He was welcomed home by his older sister, Amanda, and the two became lifelong friends. From a young age Travis appreciated the outdoors and spent most of his free time playing outside with friends and cousins. With his deep-dimpled smile and sense of humor he was quick to make friends. His love for the outdoors and ability to build lasting friendships with his smile and wit continued throughout his life.

Travis was active in 4-H and FFA and pursued youth leadership opportunities at the county and state level. Inspiring and motivating others came naturally to him and his signature red hat helped him stand out in a crowd. He graduated from Natrona County High School as part of the Class of 1999. Travis attended Casper College for two years and transferred to Colorado State University. He was a member of the livestock judging teams at both institutions, enabling him to travel and hone his skills in oral presentations and card games in the judging van. He completed a bachelor of science in management from the University of Phoenix.

Travis had an extensive career working for weed and pest districts in Wyoming, which began with four summers at Natrona County Weed and Pest. In 2004 he moved to Jackson for a job opportunity with Teton County Weed and Pest as a seasonal crew leader on the National Elk Refuge. He was promoted to full time in 2005.

As he continued his career in Jackson he worked his way to assistant supervisor, in charge of the invasive species program. Travis was active in protecting the national treasure that is the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He served as vice president of the Jackson Hole Weed Management Association, vice chairman of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee’s Aquatic Invasive Species Subcommittee, was active on the Terrestrial Invasive Species Subcommittee, and served on pretty much every committee the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council had available. His commitment to the mission of the districts and his colleagues was second to none.

In 2016 Travis left Teton County Weed and Pest to fulfill a lifelong dream of owning his own business. He formed Jackson Hole Property Services and specialized in groundskeeping, caretaking, home care and facilities maintenance. He cared deeply for the clients who he served and for the chance to fulfill his dream, as short-lived as it ended up being.

Travis was a 2015 graduate of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance’s Conservation Leadership Institute and proudly served as a board member for the Teton Conservation District and Snake River Fund. He was passionate about protecting Wyoming’s public lands and doing his part to leave the world a bit better than he found it. In 2016 he was presented with the “Clean, Drain, Dry” award during the Pole Pedal Paddle event, a recognition of his service and commitment to the area.

Travis married fellow Wyoming native Monika (Wells) Ziehl on the Big Island of Hawaii in March 2007. Together they built their lives in Jackson and enjoyed exploring the world around them, both on the trails throughout the valley and through their extensive travels. They served as co-presidents of Teton Trail Runners from 2013 to 2018. Travis loved the running community and not only completed many difficult races, such as the Bighorn Mountain Trail Race (18- and 32-mile distances), but volunteered countless hours at running events.

He also enjoyed golfing, snowboarding, beating all of his friends and family at Texas Hold ’Em and fantasy football. His passion for the Minnesota Vikings was infectious. Through his home-brewing hobby he created truly delicious beers, wines, meads and ciders. He was an excellent chef and enjoyed sharing his much-loved mesquite-smoked barbecue while spending time with friends and family. His nieces and nephews adored him. No one knew Travis had a secret talent of making balloon animals until one day he showed it off, much to the delight of his little fans.

He is survived by his loving wife, Monika Wells Ziehl; his mother, Cheryl Ziehl, of Douglas, Georgia; grandparents Roger and Ruby Ziehl, of Casper, and Arnold and Elizabeth Heikkila, of Duluth, Minnesota; sister Amanda (Adam) Smith, of Douglas, Georgia; nephews and nieces Scott and Vianne Smith and Jack and Maslyn Edmiston; and caring in-laws, cousins, aunts, uncles, supporters and friends near and far.

Travis is preceded in death by his father, Jeffrey Ziehl.

Travis’s smile, zest for life and love for family and friends was awe inspiring. He was always cracking himself up over his own jokes (even when no one else got them) and making everyone laugh. He especially loved a good pun.

The family is experiencing the love and friendship of Travis’s many friends as they receive cards, calls, texts and emails. He will be sorely missed by those who knew and loved him.

Travis requested a party, not a funeral. When he was diagnosed 14 months ago with glioblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer, he became an advocate with the hope of spreading awareness of the disease. He and Monika shared their journey through their blog, “What You Do From Here,” hoping their willingness to be open about their experience would prove to be helpful to others struggling in life, not just those battling cancer. They knew they couldn’t change his diagnosis or what was happening to them, but they could control how they reacted to it and hoped to inspire others to live with more meaning and purpose.

It’s in that spirit that a celebration of life is being planned. It will be held on April 12 at Hole Bowl. Details to follow.

In lieu of flowers, Travis had a more specific request. So in his own words, “Any memorial donations can be sent to the Snake River Fund. The worst day on the Snake River was still a pretty, damn great day — the Snake is amazing and I loved every cubic foot of it! Thanks to the people who protect it and keep it ready for the next generation of stewards! Or send memorial donations to the Wray Landon Legacy Fund at the Teton Regional Land Trust. I have lots of love for those guys!”

 

Deputy Editor

Melissa Cassutt’s job should come with a badge. Regrettably, it does not. She oversees Valley, Scene and special projects. She also writes features, mostly about people but often dogs. Send story tips and pet pictures.

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