Local attorney stood up for the underdog

Passionate, dedicated, hard-working — while those words might best describe Ron Travis by those who knew him, they only partially capture a picture of the late Williamsport attorney.

All who knew Travis, known to some as “Lefty,” seem to agree he was a giant among his contemporaries practicing law in the region and beyond.

“There’s a lot to say about Ron,” said John “Jack” Humphrey, who worked with Travis in their city law office. “He’s essentially the reason I decided to practice in Williamsport.”

The two started out as young attorneys in the early 1970s. Early on, Travis was a law clerk for Lycoming County Judge Malcolm Muir.

Humphrey said Travis, who died Dec. 24, was simply an excellent lawyer, smart and always well-prepared.

They practiced law together later and eventually were partners with the firm Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann.

Over the years, he said Travis always took tough cases. He often represented convicted murderers to help them avoid the death penalty.

“He had a very strong belief against the death penalty,” Humphrey said. “He thought there were much more appropriate ways (of punishment) rather than just a conscious murder of somebody.”

Travis worked, he said, extremely hard on behalf of his clients. That hard work and passion seemed to be part of everything Travis did, he added.

Humphrey noted Travis’ talents as an athlete. The Lycoming College graduate and basketball star is a member of the school’s athletic hall of fame.

Jim Carpenter, former Williamsport Sun-Gazette sports editor and later region editor, recalled Travis.

“Going back several years, when he still was playing amateur basketball in the area and he was involved in the Williamsport Men’s Tennis League, Ron was a fierce competitor on the court but always a gentleman. He was a go-to kind of guy and will be greatly missed,” he said.

Travis’ longtime law partner, Cliff Rieders, noted that Travis continued playing tennis for many years, despite age and injuries that long ago had robbed him of his former talents.

But he still had a devastating tennis serve.

“He would win matches by his serve,” Rieders said.

Mostly, Rieders recalled Travis for his dedication to his profession.

“He knew criminal law cases backwards and forwards,” he said. “He was totally honest. He was a work horse. He was a very stabilizing influence in the firm.”

Criminal defense was Travis’ specialty, and he worked hard on behalf of his clients, according to Rieders.

“He was concerned about people being treated fairly,” he said.

Lycoming County Commissioner Rick Mirabito said while he didn’t know Travis well, he truly got the sense that he was one to stand up for the underdog.

“It was definitely a shock,” he said of his recent death.

Added Humphrey, “I would say he was one of the quiet practitioners, but one who worked extremely hard on behalf of his people.”

He recalled Travis toiling many late nights at the law firm.

Rieders said Travis was not one to mix words.

“If you asked Ron a question, you were going to get it straight,” he said.

Williamsport attorney Michael Wiley said, “To me, Ron always represented how one should practice law, always extremely well-prepared and effective in the courtroom. He was well respected by the bench and bar alike. But what I will remember most about Ron was his willingness to share a story or a pick-up game of basketball with the then younger attorneys of my generation. A class act in and on the court.”

Travis was, in the estimation of Ed Mitchell, “absolutely the best” at criminal defense work.

“I had an awful lot of respect for Ron Travis,” said Mitchell, a city attorney. “He was totally dedicated to his clients and very passionate about his work for them.”

Mitchell said Travis was simply “what a lawyer should be.”

He noted Travis’ tremendous work ethic.

“I always could recognize his car,” he said. “He drove a convertible. I would frequently see his car at his law firm on weekends.”

Mitchell also acknowledged his dedication to family.

Travis left behind his wife, Pamela, and a daughter, Kelli. Another daughter, Leigh, died in 2017, not long before he passed away.