By MADDY VITALE
There wasn’t a person Travis Waid wouldn’t help, friends and family said. He was a handyman who could fix anything for anybody. He was an integral part of the Sea Isle City United Methodist Church. Alongside his wife, Pastor Melissa Doyle-Waid, he participated in church services each Sunday.
He was a country boy from Arkansas and had family in Tennessee, but made his home at the Jersey Shore. His influence was felt in both Sea Isle and Ocean City.
The Sea Isle father of two girls and a boy, Abby, Gabrielle and Micah, was instrumental in Ocean City school district’s After-Prom events and Drama Guild. He was a mentor to his children, especially his son, who is studying sound production in college.
But despite what would appear to be a beautiful life, one with many loving family members and friends, he struggled with severe depression.
On Feb. 25 he took his own life, just weeks shy of what would have been his 47th birthday on March 21.
His services were held Wednesday at the Sea Isle City United Methodist Church to a standing-room only crowd. A line of mourners stretched down the sidewalk, waiting to enter the church.
In his obituary, his wife wrote, “Travis Waid left the earth to be home with Jesus. For years he struggled to find peace but could no longer face the pain of depression. Today he is in the arms of the God he served so well.”
Pastor Doyle-Waid wiped away tears as she stood next to her husband’s casket and gave a powerful sermon.
She said she wanted to give the sermon because it was the final nice thing she could do for her husband.
It was a sermon about her husband’s love and devotion to family and friends and about his kindness to all he came in contact with.
“This is the last thing I could do for him,” Pastor Doyle-Waid said of her sermon and eulogy. “He won’t be in pain anymore.”
It was a service filled with music and tears. And there was also laughter as people watched a video of the Waid family. There were snippets of Travis Waid performing, playing the guitar, goofing around, singing and dancing, and just being the jovial, funny, and mellow-mannered man described by loved ones during the two-hour service.
Singing solo and without musical accompaniment, Adam Waid gave a touching tribute to his brother with his rendition of Garth Brooks’ “The Dance.”
The sermon was also an appeal to those who suffer from depression or mental illness to seek help immediately because everyone in this life touches so many others.
“You can’t see depression like a broken bone or some other disease that people suffer with, but he did. And he was at the point where he couldn’t do it any longer,” Pastor Doyle-Waid said, her voice filled with emotion. “All that matters is he is gone from this place and what matters is if any of you are ever in a place where you feel that kind of despair, look around at the pain that that despair causes.”
“My husband is at peace. He is truly in the arms of God and he hurts for nothing. He has joy and peace and love. He feels adequate. He feels full. But it wasn’t supposed to be that way. We don’t get to choose when we get that peace,” she continued.
For Micah, he lost not only his father, but his first best friend and his mentor, he told the mourners.
“Since I was a little kid, I was always trying to be like my dad,” he said in a heartfelt tribute. “There was so much more I wanted to learn from my dad. But I will strive to be the man he wanted me to be.”
The line to enter the service wrapped around the church to the parking lot. People came together to remember Travis Waid, to support his wife and his children.
Retired Ocean City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Taylor spoke of Travis Waid’s many contributions to the school district, especially to the drama productions.
“His support and actual work that he did in the Drama Guild was invaluable,” Dr. Taylor said as she waited in line to enter the church. “He helped with After-Prom. He helped build the sets for the Drama Guild. He was really the backbone for the activities around theater and drama. He was such a caring and thoughtful person. He touched so many of us. He was generous with his time and was a kind spirit.”
Ocean City Board of Education member Cecelia Gallelli-Keyes is a close friend of the Waid family. She and her family lived around the corner from the Waids when they resided in Ocean City for about 15 years.
Gallelli-Keyes remained a close friend of the family when they moved to Sea Isle. There was never a time she could recall, she said, that her close friend Travis Waid wasn’t available to lend a hand, if she needed it.
“He was a gentle giant, with a wonderful smile. He had a heart of gold,” she said prior to the service.
Gallelli-Keyes told the mourners that she is collaborating with the Ocean City school district to do something to honor Travis Waid for his contributions and volunteerism in the schools.
While he was an outdoorsy person, who loved to hunt and fish, he also dedicated as much time, if not more time, toward helping others in both Ocean City and Sea Isle.
Gallelli-Keyes noted that the Waid children have learned well from their father and mother, including the importance of respecting others and to be good and kind.
“They do so much for the community,” she emphasized. “Not just for Sea Isle, but Ocean City.”
She recalled that when Micah was a little boy, he would go around the neighborhood when living in Ocean City to collect donations for the homeless and for the church food pantry.
And like Travis Waid, music is an important part of daughter Gabby’s life, while Abby is working on a wedding planning business.
Bill Caterini and his wife, Jill, of Wildwood, were two of the hundreds of people who came to pay their respects and say goodbye to their good friend.
Caterini met Travis Waid about five years ago, while working at Morey’s Piers in Wildwood. They did some jobs together. They even performed together at Ocean City’s After-Prom, he recalled.
“He was really instrumental in so many important things in Ocean City and Sea Isle. And he was a good musician,” Caterini noted. “We did some jobs together and stayed friends.”
He described his friend as a person who could solve any problem.
“It was never an issue for Travis. He could do anything. He could fix anything,” he said. “He was just a good person, and he will be missed.”