Story by Bailey Walker & Hollye Carroll
Assistant Editor, Online Editor
Photo from the September 1980 15th Street News Archives
A former professor of psychology at Rose State, Dr. Keith Thrasher, passed away on Feb. 20, 2019, at the age of 79. Born June 22, 1939, Thrasher met his wife Peggy Smyers at age 18 and the two were married six years later. After graduating from Paris Junior College and earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from Texas A&M at Commerce, he attended Oklahoma State University for his doctorate.
Thrasher began his teaching career in Uvalde, Texas. He transferred to Northwestern State University and then later came to Rose where he received the Distinguished Teacher Award in 1998.
“He does have many smart comments, but that’s just him,” wrote one reviewer from Rate My Professors.
“That rare combination of Oklahoma charm with Texas cool,” reads another comment from the site.
A common thread through Thrasher’s reviews was a genuine care for his students and learning, as well as a lot of personal stories from his life.
“He often reminded us when he started here, the Social Sciences Division was no more than a trailer,” History Professor Michelle Brockmeier said. Brockmeier worked with Thrasher from her start date in 1995 until Thrasher’s retirement.
“As computers, D2L and other technology crept into our academic lives, Professor Thrasher held out as a Luddite,” Brockmeier explained. “But gradually we took turns teaching him new things and how to use it. He was always very gracious and very appreciative of any help. He was inquisitive and curious, trying to understand all the new terminology and societal changes around him.”
Brockmeier still has the cut crystal bowl Thrasher gave her as a wedding gift in 2010, recalling him as a kind man who loved to laugh and smile.
“One of my favorite stories about Professor Thrasher dates back to a division Christmas party in the early 2000s,” Brockmeier said. “We were supposed to meet at Dr. Larry Edwards house for the party. As the night progressed, we wondered where Keith was because he usually never missed these things. Just as the night ended, he finally appeared. He had gone to the wrong house but they were having a party and were so nice to him, he just stayed, making new friends. That’s just who he was — he made friends wherever he went.”
A service was held Feb. 28 for Thrasher at the Atkinson’s Theatre which preceded his March 3 funeral in his hometown of Paris, Texas.
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