Paulette and Greg Beck reflect on photos of their daughter, Piper Travis, who died in 2017.

Trust named after daughter will support island charities

A couple has created a trust to benefit local charities in memory of their daughter, Piper Travis.

A South Whidbey couple is keeping the memory of their daughter alive by creating a charitable trust to reflect her kindness and generous spirit.

Piper Travis, the daughter of Clinton residents Paulette and Greg Beck, was an active member of the South Whidbey community who offered a lifeline for many by opening her home to those who were down on their luck.

Their daughter, the Becks acknowledged, was not without her own flaws but was incredibly kind towards others, something they are hoping to continue with a trust fund that bears her name.

Just three years ago, Travis became seriously ill during a two-week stay in Snohomish County Jail, where she had been booked because of minor offenses discovered during a traffic stop, according to a previous story that ran in the South Whidbey Record.

Travis was diagnosed with meningitis, sepsis and acute respiratory distress. She passed away in the hospital on Dec. 16, 2017.

Her family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging that staff at the jail neglected her as her health declined, leading to her death.

The family and Snohomish County reached a $3.1 million settlement.

The Becks have chosen to put the money from the lawsuit toward nonprofit organizations that Travis either would have used herself — such as Good Cheer Food Bank — or her friends would have used.

“A lot of her friends didn’t have a house, didn’t have a car, didn’t have food,” Greg Beck said. “She had all of those things.”

“Her door was literally open,” he added.

She quietly helped an untold number of people during her 34 years.

During her memorial service, a man nobody knew stood up and told a story about how Travis provided a place for him to stay while he was recovering from drug addiction.

Because of her generosity, he was able to stay clean.

Paulette Beck said Travis would always stop and buy diapers and baby food for her friends who had young children. Travis lived on Whidbey most of her life and had friends in all corners of the island.

“She was always the kind of person that they turned to and they could always sleep on the couch for a few nights, and she always had food,” Paulette Beck said.

Travis was a patron of the food bank, where a bench carved in her memory by sculptor Pat McVay now sits. The bench is adorned with painted flowers and is a popular spot for other patrons of the food bank to sit while they wait in line.

It’s where the Becks sit on a cold but sunny January afternoon, as they reflect on old pictures of their daughter.

“She liked flowers, she liked color, she was a real girly-girl. This is what we designed and I thought it was just the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen,” Paulette Beck said of the bench, which was carved in 2018.

The Becks chose Good Cheer, Whidbey Island Nourishes, Mother Mentors of Whidbey Island and the House of Hope as beneficiaries of Travis’ trust.

“Being how she was always helping the homeless and helping the hungry, that’s where we focused,” her mother said.

The trust will continue to be maintained, even after the Becks’ passing, by their other daughter and granddaughter. Every year it will contribute donations to South Whidbey nonprofits.

Jonathan Kline, executive director for the Whidbey Homeless Coalition, said the funds will help House of Hope staff to connect with individuals to ensure their needs are being met.

“Rather than take that money for themselves, they decided to put that money into a trust to honor the type of person Piper was,” Kline said of the Becks.

Pam LeLoup, the board president for Whidbey Island Nourishes, said friends of Travis benefitted from the food available in WIN’s free vending machines.

“Such a tragic story, but beautiful that they’ve created a trust with the funds received from the lawsuit and are giving back to help others that might be in a situation like Piper’s,” LeLoup wrote in an email.

“A beautiful legacy for a person who died so young.”

Paulette Beck summed up the giving spirit of her daughter with these words: “Whidbey Island is a great place to give,” she said. “People give here. People do things for other people. Piper saw it, and that’s what she did.”

A bench dedicated to Piper Travis, built by Pat McVay, sits in front of Good Cheer Food Bank, where Travis was a patron. Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record

A bench dedicated to Piper Travis, built by Pat McVay, sits in front of Good Cheer Food Bank, where Travis was a patron. Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record

Piper Travis, age 10 in this photo, was part of South Whidbey’s first little league girl’s softball team.

Piper Travis, age 10 in this photo, was part of South Whidbey’s first little league girl’s softball team.

More in Life

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
The town of Coupeville is celebrating Halloween with a tribute to "Practical Magic," the film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as sister witches that was filmed in Coupeville in the late 1990s.
Coupeville extras reminisce about a practically magic time on film set

Coupeville celebrates a Halloween tribute to the film with decorations and special showings.

See caption
Farm stand opens at school

Students, staff members and Americorps service members worked together on the self-serve stand.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Laura Foley, left, and Don Meehan locate a grave in Sunnyside Cemetery using Find a Grave's GPS grave locator.
Volunteers adding GPS grave locator to Sunnyside’s website

Two community volunteers took on a project to make it easier to locate graves in Sunnyside Cemetery.

Edited photo - better to use
A green reaping: Whidbey pot farm harvests outdoor bounty

Volunteers approach bushes of kush with shears in hand at the South Whidbey farm owned by Adam Lind.

Photo by Theresa Farage
A photographer captured the Northern Lights over North Whidbey Tuesday night. Theresa Farage went to Dugualla Bay Heights Road looking toward La Conner armed with her Nikon D5200 camera and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Northern Lights over Whidbey

The dazzling northern lights appeared in the skies across the state this week.

Penn Cove employees serve customers during the brewery’s grand opening celebration of its new location in Freeland over Memorial Day weekend. (Tyler Rowe / Cold Pizza Creative)
Drink This: Penn Cove opens its 3rd taproom on Whidbey Island

Brothers Marc and Mitch Aparicio opened a new Freeland taproom at The Barn over Memorial Day weekend.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Will Hawkins and Dawn Smith officially took ownership of Rainshadow Nursery on Oct. 1.
Rainshadow Nursery welcomes new owners

Dawn Smith and Will Hawkins of Greenbank officially took ownership of Rainshadow Nursery on Oct. 1.

Rob Schouten's "Skyfall" oil painting is inspired by the San Juan Islands.
His etchings and paintings explore the mysteries of nature

You can Rob Schouten’s aquatint etchings and oil paintings at his gallery and art garden in Langley.

Gabrielle Robles at Sunnyside Cemetery in a block house.
Coupeville woman offers haunted history tour

Gabrielle Robles is taking guests on a Haunted History Tour of Whidbey Island on Oct. 29 and 30.

See caption
NBA star Isaiah Thomas travels to South Whidbey

South Whidbey teenager Jacob Ng recently got to live out a hoop dream.

Halloween happens on Whidbey

Spooky season is back in swing and there are plenty of events that promise a ghoulishly good time.

Audubon is holding birding class for beginners Oct. 19

Master birder Whitney Neufeld-Kaiser will be teaching the online Zoom class 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 19.