With a roaring thrum of engines, a lot of leather jackets and some traffic blockers, dozens of motorcyclists took off from the Soldotna Harley-Davidson on Saturday, bound for a church to celebrate the life of a lost friend.
Many of the riders in the motorcycle brigade knew or rode with Travis Stubblefield. A lifelong resident of the Soldotna area, Stubblefield, 48, died Thursday after a conflict in the Kasilof area. Alaska State Troopers reported the conflict and his death in a dispatch Friday but have yet to file charges and are still investigating the circumstances.
At a memorial service Saturday at the Peninsula Grace Brethren Church on Kalifornsky Beach Road, friends recalled Stubblefield as an enthusiastic motorcyclist, dedicated worker, loving father and good friend.
“There are times he’d show up at my house in the morning and say, ‘Come on, let’s go play,’ and I’d say, ‘Nah, I have to work,’” said Criss Adams, a close friend who delivered Stubblefield’s eulogy. “He’d say, ‘There’s plenty of time for work, it’s raining tomorrow, let’s go to work tomorrow.’ … He’d always say to me, ‘Death is certain, life is not. You gotta live it.’ And he loved saying that to me, because he knew eventually he wasn’t going to be able to play as hard anymore, and he wanted get as much in as he could.”
Many of Stubblefield’s stories were about disasters that happened to him, Adams said — stories Stubblefield referred to as “Travesties.” Oftentimes that involved the dirt bikes, four-wheelers or motorcycles he loved to ride. He was someone who “played every bit as hard as he worked, and I’ve never seen anybody that worked as hard as him,” Adams said.
But he also refused to give up — if he set his mind to something, he’d do it eventually. He started his own business, which he intended to be a way for his kids to make a living, Adams said.
“We talked about it for a long time — he had a plan, and I knew he was going to get it done,” he said. “He wanted to do this business, and he wanted to take his sons and he wanted to teach his sons how to run this business. He wasn’t doing this for himself.”
Community members packed the church Saturday to share experiences and condolences with Stubblefield’s family. Every chair was taken, and more people lined the back of the room. After Adams delivered the eulogy, he opened the microphone for other community members to come up and share stories about Stubblefield’s life.
He helped everyone who asked, some said. He was compassionate and never stopped talking about his kids, others said. Neighbor Suzie Kendrick remembered him as like a son to her after all the times he came to help her when she called.
“He had my back, he always told me, ‘Suzie, Stubblefield’s got you,’” she said. “… I loved Travis. He was a hero, and he always will be.”
The original dispatch from Alaska State Troopers, issued June 22, reported that Stubblefield had entered a residence in the Kasilof area armed with a shotgun on June 21. Three other people were already inside and a struggle ensued in which he was stabbed multiple times before the three people inside fled, according to the dispatch.
Troopers reported that they detained the three people and that Stubblefield “would not cooperate with AST on scene,” and a Special Emergency Response Team was called out because he “was still believed to be armed,” according to the dispatch. By the time the team entered the residence, Stubblefield had died from the stab wounds, according to the dispatch.
Stubblefield’s family did not want to be interviewed until the Alaska State Troopers’ investigation is complete. However, in a statement they released through attorney Eric Derleth, they wanted to clarify that Stubblefield “was the only person at the location at the request of the homeowner when he was killed.”
“The family wishes to express their appreciation for the kind and compassionate words and condolences they’ve received from the many friends and neighbors who miss Travis as much as they do,” the family said in the statement.
Friends have established a GoFundMe campaign to support Stubblefield’s family after his death. As of Saturday, people had donated $8,534.