With heavy hearts, the family of John Wesley Traister, announces his passing on September 13, 2017 at the age of 71. He was born in Kittanning, Pennsylvania, in 1946 to Rev. Mason R. and Florence G. Traister and grew up in the small town of New Bethlehem. As the only boy with two sisters, he asked to opt out of washing dishes for more "manly" chores, made peanut butter sandwiches when his mother served his least favorite foods (i.e. chicken), and with his siblings painted the family cat! He often told stories of skipping across sheets of ice on Redbank Creek and playing high school basketball, despite his short stature. It was during this time that he developed his love of the outdoors, learning to fish and to hunt with buddies who referred to each other as "Mert."
Having met Dorothy, his wife of 49 years, during college in Anderson, Indiana, Wes, who had many outdoor interests that might have been best shared with a son, was blessed with not one but two daughters, Cara and Libby. His position as a biology lab instructor at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown brought the family to Windber and the old Lochrie house on Fifteenth Street. Through new friendships, he discovered nearby fields in which he found Native American arrowheads. When one of his girls was willing to come along, she never failed to find one, although it was usually planted by "Dad." It was also rumored that his unique gardening style yielded the largest heads of garlic seen in Windber.
As a grandfather, his first grandchild Emma christened him "Poppy." He loved it! As her chief babysitter, Poppy was famous for rocking the baby and/or himself to sleep. When Emma was followed by a namesake, Louis Wesley Bafile, also called Wes, the pair formed the "Wes Club." Activities included watching sports and eating snacks. Young Wes also shared Poppy's love of archery. Seven years ago, Poppy's heart grew to include his adopted granddaughter, Mary. As a volunteer at her MDA summer camp, he presented a fly tying demonstration and gave each of the campers a bag of his homemade flies to try out on the lake.
Poppy was a staunch fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates and rarely missed a televised auto race. He sponsored an annual family contest to choose the winner of the Indianapolis 500 and gave out awards of cans of Vernors ginger ale for the best shells found at the beach, which were also often planted by Poppy. One of his traditional roles was as the "Santa" who handed out gifts from under the Christmas tree.
In retirement, Poppy and Grammy joined Cara's family in Mercersburg, but he was never more at home than in his beloved cabin on the Little Missouri River near Murfreesboro, Arkansas. There he spent many happy days tying flies or holding a "clinic" for a less experienced fisherman as he caught his limit of trout in record time. His technique earned him the local nickname "Fish Whisperer." He also continued to hunt and watch animals on his land from his comfortable "buck palace," but he enjoyed perusing photos from his wildlife camera nearly as much. The family dubbed it the "coon cam" for the number of raccoon photos it captured.
Poppy was a person who recognized the simple pleasures in life, and for him they included meatloaf, Heath bars, rum raisin ice cream, and his grandmother's peach custard pie. He loved country music, perhaps a bit too much for his family's taste. On any project or cross-country drive, he was accompanied by Johnny Cash or George Strait. His kind nature and generous spirit remained with him throughout his life, and he never failed to thank each and every caregiver who saw him through a chronic liver illness. For Poppy, nirvana looked very much like his favorite fishing hole in Brookville, and there is little doubt that he will forever be there in spirit on the first day of trout season.
Wes Traister is survived by his wife, Dorothy (Keene) Traister; daughter Cara, her husband Louis A. Bafile, and their children Emma and Wes; daughter Elizabeth (Libby), her husband Chris Kiehl, and their daughter Mary; sister Cindy and her husband Dennis Morgan; sister Patti Logan; sister-in-law Bernice DeYoung; and nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. Words of condolence may be sent to 6821 Irvine Drive, Mercersburg, PA, 17236.
Friends will be received Monday, September, 18, 2017 at the Alcorn Funeral Home in Hawthorn from 10 to 11 a.m. Following the visitation there will be a graveside service at 11:30 a.m. at the Oakland Cemetery in Distant.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.alcornfuneralhome.com.
Published on September 17, 2017