TREVIS GLENN WELCOME–JOYNER
11/13/88 – 05/09/19
Trevis Glenn Welcome-Joyner had the kind of warmth of personality that inspired and changed the people around him, from small children to people decades older. “He is magnetic,” his mother, Tracie Joyner, said. “People are just drawn to him. He is an extraordinary human being.”
Trevis, 30, passed away Thursday, May 9, 2019, at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, after years of living his life joyfully and valiantly in the face of a terrible cancer and in defiance of its attempt to define him.
“If you knew Trev, I know you loved him,” his wife, Maxine Welcome-Joyner, wrote. “My heart is breaking for all the people who will be saddened by the passing of him. Let grief take you where you need to go, but also be joyous. He was joyous and laughing to the very end, and I know he would want everyone else to be.”
Trevis was not only a son, husband, and brother, but also a teacher, mentor, and friend. He was a graduate of Lithia Springs High School in Douglas County, Georgia, and Columbia University in New York where he double majored in computer science and psychology. He also attended Culver Academy in Culver, Indiana, which introduced him to the sport of fencing. He later went on to fence in college and was a member of the Columbia Fencing Team when they won the Ivy League Championship in 2008.
Trevis was a dedicated teacher and most recently worked as a second-grade intervention specialist at KIPP Strive Primary School, a public charter school in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood. He began his career in education at KIPP AMP Elementary School in Brooklyn, New York, where he was a Founding Kindergarten Teacher, followed by a Founding First Grade Teacher and then a Founding Science Teacher for grades K-2. He later worked as a Second Grade Teacher at KIPP Ignite Academy in South Los Angeles after moving to California. Throughout his teaching career, Trevis made a point of reaching out to the students who needed him most. The mother of one of his students commented, “Trevis meant the world to me and mine. He is forever in our hearts. Know that his time here in New York was well spent impacting so many young minds. He is forever a part of our family.” Another parent wrote, “Trevis was my daughter's kindergarten teacher in 2013 at KIPP in NYC. She loved him and had a special bond with him. He was so good to her. When she heard the news he had passed, she was sad and calmly said, ‘He taught me how to read. I am going to miss him. He just got me.’ She was a shy student and he definitely had an impact on her.”
As a teenager and young adult, Trevis was a survivor of phases and adventures that sometimes concerned or scared those who loved him. But he always emerged from them smiling with the wisdom and maturity that only the intentional act of living can provide. “Oh, he was definitely a challenge to raise,” Tracie said. “But I think that helped to mold him into a better person. His classic line was, ‘I’m not arguing, I’m debating.’”
Throughout his life, Trevis never lost his thirst for learning. He was a deep thinker with an intellectual curiosity that drew people in and encouraged dialog. When others spoke, Trevis let them know he was listening.
His many admirable qualities made a lasting impression on those who knew him, as well as those who only knew of him. A friend of his mother’s wrote, “Although I never had the opportunity to meet Trevis, nor the privilege to call him a friend, over the years I’ve felt I’ve gotten to know what an incredible and loving person he is through Tracie’s posts. To have known and loved such a wonderful and caring person must make the heartache all the worse, and my hope is in time those happy memories outweigh the sadness and heavy hearts you are carrying today.”
“It was hard for anyone to meet him and not love him right away,” wrote Helen Werbe, one of Trevis’s close friends from college. “In fact, I have so many friends and family he met over the years on who he made such positive impressions that they, even if they had only met him once, would continue to ask how he was doing. To me, this was incredible. No one else would be remembered like that.”
As a child, he developed close bonds with his maternal grandmother and grandfather, both of whom made a great impact on him. He shared many happy memories with his grandmother, Mary Alice Joyner, during his early years, and he inherited his love for cooking and gardening from her. He was not given a middle name at birth, but was given the privilege of choosing his own. When he was in middle school, he chose to legally add “Glenn” to his name in honor of his grandfather, Glenn Joyner.
Trevis lost those grandparents while still young, but developed a similarly close relationship with his grandfather’s older brother, Van Joyner. Many holiday gatherings ended with Trevis engaged in conversation with “Daddy Van” at the dinner table long after the last dish was carried away. “With Uncle Van, Trevis is so curious and just loves to talk about anything and everything. He was so intrigued with the past and wanted to learn all he could from someone who had lived it firsthand,” Tracie said.
Trevis faced a devastating diagnosis in the fall of 2015, but rather than allowing it to shatter him, he chose to embrace a new phase of life. He moved to Los Angeles with Maxine, he traveled, read, ate, and loved. When he and Maxine moved home to Atlanta, he drove cross country with his younger brother, Hayden. To the delight of friends and family, he and Maxine were married in December 2018 in a ceremony that the two of them created. Trevis’s vows to Maxine were largely improvised. When he spoke from his heart, Maxine’s tears were joined by those in attendance, many of whom traveled across the country to witness this special union.
In an online remembrance, Claire Turner, another college friend and former co-worker, described Trevis as “the rock of our friend group” whose boundless love and enthusiasm for food, music, and children left a deep impression on all who knew him. “Eight years was not enough time to have known you, my friend. We had a lot more living to do,” she wrote. “In his honor, talk to a stranger, try a new food, laugh with your children, dance. Live life to the fullest, because we know that’s what he would be doing.”
After his passing, Tracie received this message from someone she had never met, “You don't know me, but I recently heard the news about Trevis. What I will always remember about him is his joy – his joy in people, his joy in food, music, dance, everything. Trevis inspired everyone he met to be a better person, and also to live life with joy. He inspires me! I will live my life as joyfully as I can, because that's what Trevis would do!”
Trevis’s family members are in the process of planning a Celebration of Life for July 20, 2019, to allow his many friends from across the nation to gather together and share their memories of him. Details are forthcoming.