Thomas S. Travers, 51, lighting expert

October 07, 2005|By JACQUES KELLY | JACQUES KELLY,SUN REPORTER

Thomas Schenuit Travers, who as the owner of a Towson lighting business restored historic fixtures in Maryland landmark buildings, died of a heart attack Tuesday at his Butler home. He was 51.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Towson, he was a 1973 graduate of Boys' Latin School, where he was on the track and wrestling teams. Immediately after graduation, he established his first business, Tire Warehouse in Cockeysville, which he ran for a decade with his brother, Robert Slater Travers of Towson.

In 1983, they sold the tire business and with other family members purchased Wilson Electric Co., a long-established York Road lamp and lighting operation. When its home in the central business district was torn down for the Towson Commons development, Mr. Travers moved his operation a short distance away on York Road and renamed it Wilson Lighting and Interiors.

"Tommy Travers and Wilson's were a major part of the central Towson business district," said Robert E. Latshaw Jr., a former Greater Towson Committee president. "The quality of the store made it a retail destination location. People wanted to do business with Tommy."

Mr. Travers later expanded the operation to include his lighting repair division, Wilson Heritage, housed in a landmark stone building, which he ran until his death.

"His place was an Aladdin's Cave of treasures and fascinating things," said Stiles T. Colwill, a Baltimore County-based decorator. "When you asked him about some fabulous chandelier or lamp, he would say, `Oh, it's just for a client.'"

Mr. Colwill predicted that many of the items Mr. Travers restored or fitted for use as lamps would end up in museums' permanent collections.

"He was the man for the job," Mr. Colwill said. "It's not just a matter of now going to New York and finding the kind of work Tommy did. I just don't know who could do what he did."

Mr. Travers worked on lamps and lighting fixtures used in the film Avalon and the HBO cable series The Wire. After a 1995 fire heavily damaged the Maryland Club, he polished and rewired large brass gas fixtures and sconces. He also refurbished the historic lighting in the Senate chambers in Annapolis.

"He was a gracious and modest man who never grasped how extraordinary his talents were," said designer Henry Johnson, who works in Mount Vernon.

Mr. Travers refurbished lighting at St. Mary's Seminary in Roland Park and recently began work on restoring the lighting at the Austrian Embassy in Washington.

Friends said Mr. Travers enjoyed spending his free time at large, multigenerational family vacations.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today at St. John's Episcopal Church, 3738 Butler Road, Glyndon.

In addition to his brother, survivors include his wife of 12 years, Tracy Lynn Robinson-Travers; three sons, Thomas Schenuit Travers Jr., Ryan Grady Travers and Trayton Slater Travers, all of Butler; a daughter, Autumn Gail Travers of Butler; his parents, Oliver S. and Mary Jean Schenuit Travers of Baltimore; and two sisters, Jean Marie Goodwin and Joan Elizabeth Ottenritter, both of Towson. His 1978 marriage to the former Kathleen Grady ended in divorce.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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