You can know Russell Thrasher in many ways. He may be one of the paramedics in the wreckage or medical emergency whose calm voice is satisfactory. He may be the one who gives you a chocolate-covered strawberry box or a delicious piece of chocolate cheesecake in a chocolate kettle on Valentine’s Day. It may have worked on your computer or you may have signed up for your first Internet service.
And, if you’re lucky enough, you’ve probably seen a collection of NASA memoirs, Star Wars Lego creations and rockets.
Russell and his wife, Cheryl Beaver, live in a comfortable house in Creek. Their three children, Andrew, Matthew and Allison, have now grown up, so the nest is somewhat empty. However, the arrival of four granddaughters has ensured that they will not be too lonely.
Russell has “Mission Control” in a corner of the house. There he displays a huge collection of NASA mission patches, rocket models, commemorative coins and all kinds of space related treasures. It has an extensive set of three computer monitors and a future chair for launch launches, breaking news and research.
It has patches for each space shuttle launch in the order in which they were launched, a total of 135 of them in wall frames.
The exact scale model of the Saturn V rocket boasts of space. The gantry is there, it’s bright. In fact, most models have lights. The vast and complex Lego models of the Star Wars series live in the other corner of the room. Death Stars, X-Fighters, Millennium Falcons, even Baby Yuda testify to patients working long hours.
When the last space shuttle was built, Russell and Ellie, then 12, left for Florida to see it. He had to return the next day for his ambulance shift. He woke up early in the morning and made his way to see the historical event. And, there was a hold in 31 seconds.
“Usually there is no launch when there is a stop that is close to the launch time,” he said.
There’s a three-minute launch window, and for a minute he thought he’d made a hasty trip for no reason. But the problem cleared up and they saw the shuttle rise into the sky. Her face still shines as she remembers this interesting face.
There are all kinds of signed pictures of different astronauts, and even some whimsical things. She has Mandlorine (Baby Yoda) cereals and Yoda mac and cheese.
Each shuttle has coins for launch and each has metal from that shuttle. Large patches are on display, and one of them pays tribute to NASA’s 60th anniversary. It even has an Apollo 11 flight plan.
Don’t think that Thrasher is stuck in the past of space programs. SpaceX is a huge model of rocket. He has followed the private enterprise space race and knows a great deal about it.
He knows history, missions, statistics and much more when he talks about his hobbies.
It started collecting a long time ago. He’s not even sure when, but he obviously likes it.
He and Larry Rhea brought the first Internet service to Paris with their StarNet online services.
“I remember when Starnet was a 64k DSL,” he laughed. “The first internet was FTP – you had to know the orders. But I actually managed to get in touch with the Harvard University Library. It was just so great.”
It also had a computer supercenter, one of the first computer stores in the area.
“Then Michael Dale came and kicked us all out of business,” he said with a smile.
He and Cheryl Ellison, Sam Martin, Doug Garnett, and others were on their way to pick up paramedics when they came to pick up tech items from the Computer Super Center. He talked to Paramedics about his career, and he became interested. At the same time, he was thinking, if something happens to one of the children, who knows how to help?
The answer – become a paramedic. He graduated as a licensed paramedic in 1997, went to Paris to work for EMS, and ran computer services and ran a store. Whatever he does, he tries to do the best he can, whether it’s to save lives or to collect Lego models.
In January, Thrasher was named interim director of the Paris EMS, and in July, he became director. In his years with Paris EMS, he has gone to help during several hurricanes, passed the Northeast Texas Advisory Council and attended KidSafe Week.
Cheryl teaches special education at Everett Elementary at North Lamar ISD. During her days as a computer store owner, raising three children and running a chocolate kettle, she worked there.
The chocolate kettle is a fixture in Paris. It was an idea to help fund children’s college education. And what an idea. The popular Blue & White Food trailer is expected at the Red River Valley Festival and festivities. In addition to this and cheesecake, patrons line up for a world of chocolate-covered peppermint sticks, pertussis, Mexican soft drinks and other delicacies.
Thrasher obviously loves his space-based hobby. But there are three clocks above the door of his “control center” that show where his heart really is. Clocks all stop at specific times. The letter reads, “Time stands still in these moments.” And every hour has the full name and birthday of Andrew, Matthew and Allison.
The family encourages his passion for everything based on space. She celebrated her birthday in August and was presented with three new, unique projects. Not surprisingly, they are all already complete. For Russell Thrasher, life is full of children, grandchildren, work and more, and his passion for distance. And that’s the way he likes it.