Travis Nissen’s family, friends recall a life well lived

Late on the night of Friday, Dec. 9, Town of Ulster police officer and Clifford M. Miller Middle School resource officer Travis Nissen left a restaurant to return to his bride of 14 weeks, Kristy. For reasons still unknown, but continuing to be investigated, he drove his 2001 Buick off Route 28 near Dubois Road and straight into a utility pole. He was killed in the crash.

Mourners and family sympathizers with heavy hearts waited on line at Keyser Funeral Home in Kingston Tuesday afternoon for more than two hours to express their condolences on the visceral, untimely death of a young man who family and friends describe as being so full of life. On Wednesday, dozens of police officers from all over the region, clad in blue and grey, somberly gathered on a sunny day with Nissen’s family and friends for the funeral Mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Uptown Kingston — the same church where Nissen was so recently wed.

Travis A. Nissen, 1984-2011.

Kristy Canavan Nissen, a special education teacher at Miller, said this week she met her husband at the school where they both worked. They soon became well acquainted, sharing the same students. Kristy said she was immediately taken with the young, handsome man in uniform. “We always made a joke that it was his blue eyes, because he had big blue eyes,” Kristy recalled. “But he was great with kids. He was loveable and warm. He was a great guy. Very affectionate. He had a great sense of humor. We dated months before he even kissed me. He was so shy around me. He was the perfect gentleman. Every date he walked me to the door, and always opened doors for me. We lived together for the last year and a half, he did everything. He just did everything. He treated me like a princess.”


Kristy said when the couple decided to get married, Miller Principal Jo Burruby popped into her classroom to announce the couple’s intentions, insisting that the couple needed, prior to tying the knot, the students’ approval. The kids overwhelmingly gave it.

Kristy said her husband was often engaged with students, during the day and in different types of after-school activities. As a school resource officer who thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors, Travis ran a “Boys Club,” “where boys talked about ‘guy’ stuff,” Kristy explained. After school, Travis played basketball in the gym with kids who wanted to play basketball with him. “Last week he took a couple of my kids and played board games. It was part of his job, but he did go to every dance, every function and every school concert — 99 percent of the time he was working, but he was there mingling and interacting and helping out.”

Slideshow image: Nissen’s casket is brought into St. Joseph’s Church in Kingston Wednesday for his funeral Mass.