In Memory

Travis Cavens (Biology Teacher)


I just received a message from David Alan Rockwood that our amazing biology teacher, Travis Cavens, passed away on July 30th.  There is a very impressive obituary at the link below and you really ought to take the time to read it.  Mr. (Dr.) Cavens led an exemplary life, probably the least of which was trying to get us dunderheads to understand biology!

I hope Alan doesn't mind if I quote him here as it adds information and may express what some us are feeling: "I just received word that our Biology teacher, Travis Cavens, passed away on July 30. After a short stint of teaching at Sunset he went on to medical school and established a pediatric clinic in Longview, Washington. Our classmate Blaine Tolby is also a physician at that clinic. Mr. (Dr.) Cavens was one of my most memorable teachers and I only regret that as a high school freshman, I was not one of his better students."

I didn't realize that he graduated from Beaverton High School.  Apparently he grew up in Beaverton, along with many of us.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 2 p.m. August 16, 2021 at the Longview Community Church in Longview, Washington. The service will be livestreamed on youtube. Visit for the link. Please visit the online guest book at Steele Chapel's website to sign and share your thoughts.

Donations in Travis's honor may be made to

Here is the link to his obituary:

We had so many great teachers at Sunset and Dr. Cavens was certainly among the best.  Thanks, Alan, for letting us know.

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08/06/21 10:24 PM #1    

Betty Hutchinson (Flad)

Travis Cavens was an extraorinary teacher.  He inspired me in a love for biology and a curiosity for learning.  When I later learned that he had moved on to Medical School and pediatrics, I was not surprised.  He was a scholar, a humanitarian, a servant, and an inspiration to so many others.  I learned a lot from Mr. Cavens.  Sadly, I never shared with him personally the impact he had on me as a student and future educator.  Thank you Dr Cavens for making our world a better place for others.


Betty Hutchinson Flad

08/07/21 03:14 PM #2    

Mark Dodson

Betty, thank you for that comment about Travis Cavens who was one of the most extraordinary teachers I have been priviledged to have in my life.

But I would not worry about failing to tell him how much we all appreciated him. I know for a fact

that our classmate Blaine Tolby as a partner of Dr Cavens kept in touch with us and told him how much

he all meant to our class

Mark Dodson.








08/07/21 05:30 PM #3    

Ron Oldroyd

I, too, was influenced by this amazing teacher. His knowledge and humor were inspiring. I still remember him turning and firing an eraser at someone who was talking. He was on target!  When I got to Medical scoop ten years later, the knowledge I gained was still pertinent. His teaching about cellular functioning was foundational. I also remember him tooling around in his TR3 sports car. In a word, he was "cool". Great memories of a great teacher. And from what I have read in the obituary, a wonderful humanitarian. What a life of service to all whose life he touched. He certainly touched mine. 

08/08/21 08:33 PM #4    

Terry Schumacher

This message comes to us from Paula Myers Zimmer:

Dr. Cavens was my daughter's pediatrician when we lived in Clackamas and she was a baby.  He obviously had a practice in Portland somewhere, as he was assigned to her from the hospital at birth.  I don't remember any other details of her visits with him, but I believe he moved on from there, as we had to find her a new Dr.  My daughter is now 52 years old.  Small world.  Sorry to hear of his passing.

08/08/21 10:43 PM #5    

Harold Weight

Travis Cavens was such a tremendous person in so many ways, in a sense I don't know where to start.  Actually I do....we had many great teachers at Sunset and I don't want to denigrate any of them, but Travis  stands above all others in my mind.  I had biology with him my freshman year....I remember he taught us "cutting edge" stuff.  Watson and Crick's discovery of the nature of DNA was brand new in the scientific world at that point, yet he brought it into the classroom to us....along with a host of other high level concepts.  I was already interested but he took my interest in biology to another level.  While I ended up not using my college biology degree professionally to any great degree, I always treasured his influence on my love of almost anything scientifically oriented, especially biology.

Besides his great teaching skills, he was just a fun person to be around.  He drove a TR3 (red if my memory serves me), and we would often say as he flew into the parking lot, "here comes TRC in his TR3".  HIs class was always a high point for me.

While I did not have any direct contact with him after high school, I was aware of his huge impact on the community....I don't know if he was involved in founding Northwest Medical Teams (now Medical Teams International), but I do know he had a huge role in promoting their work and making a huge difference in lives around the world.

RIP Travis.....a life well lived!

Harold Weight

08/09/21 09:20 PM #6    

Sylvia Kester (Oboler)

Mr Cavens was a wonderful teacher.  His freshman biology class inspired me to a lifelong love of science, first in biochemistry and then a career in medicine (like  him).  Though the memory is somewhat foggy after 60 years, we were involved in his Science Teacher of the Year award.  The memory that is crystal clear after all these years is the Pavlov lesson--he blew a whistle and threw a tennis ball to the back of the room, and we quickly learned to duck whenever we heard the whistle.  Sounds like after he left teaching he had a fulfilling life in medicine and humanitarianism.  Bravo!

08/17/21 10:01 PM #7    

Brian Backstrand

Travis Cavens was an inspiring teacher.  He brought a passion for learning into the classroom that created for me (and so many others) a deep appreciation and interest in the biological sciences and in the adventure of learning itself.   

He also communicated a  deep personal interest in his students.  I remember Travis coming to a cross country practice in my freshman year.   

And yes there was that "eraser event."  Standing outside of the classroom waiting to go in, I remember seeing Bill (now Will) Rosenfeld coming out with a nice chaulk mark on his black sweater!   


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