Bill Thrash, a three-term member of the Kennesaw City Council, had a wide-ranging influence on the place he called home the past 30 years, but he may be best remembered as an advocate for the community’s young people.
“Bill was a modest sort who preferred to work in the background,” said Cris Eaton-Welsh, a fellow City Council member. Yet he was greatly pleased, she said, when a youth facility that bore his name was dedicated in downtown Kennesaw last July.
Situated in what was once a dance studio, the Bill Thrash Teen Center has separate areas for recreation and study, the latter equipped with computers. Thrash asked for young people’s opinions about essentials for the center, Eaton-Welsh said, and was delighted to learn they placed a high value on help with their schoolwork, even tutoring.
She said for years Thrash had a goal of a safe and supportive place where at-risk teens could do homework or just hang out in the after-school hours before dinner time. Over the past year, 15 to 25 pupils selected from Kennesaw Mountain High School have used the center.
Thrash also was a leader in organizing a Kennesaw Youth Council in 2002, with the intent of involving selected high school students each year in community issues such as policing and recreation planning. The Kennesaw example of educating teens about local government and seeking their input is being copied in other cities, said his wife, Suzanne Thrash, an adviser to the council.
Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews said that, even before he was elected to the council, Thrash played an instrumental part in negotiating the purchase of land for and planning the layout of Smith-Cantrell Park. At 42 acres, it is Kennesaw’s largest city park.
He also took the lead in arranging the planting of 100 or so trees in Smith-Cantrell and Adams parks, plus a complete inventory of trees throughout the city of Kennesaw.
William Earl Thrash, 58, died of cancer Wednesday at his Kennesaw home. A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. June 8 at Kennesaw Mountain High School. At his request, his body was donated to the Emory University School of Medicine.
Born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma, Thrash served in the U.S. Army before beginning a career in private security management, which eventually led him to Kennesaw, where he oversaw his firm’s operations in Georgia.
Kennesaw police Chief Bill Westenberger said Thrash, with his private-security background, pushed the city’s police force to be more professional. “He also gave us constant encouragement and support,” Westenberger said, which helped the force meet the standards of the Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
“Bill saw the potential in the city’s police force and in its young people,” Westenberger said, “and he did his utmost to further them both.”
Thrash wasn’t totally wrapped up in civic matters. He was a devoted family man, his wife said, deeply involved in their children’s activities.
And having been a member of an Elvis cover band as a young man, he remained a lifelong fan of the King. Recently, he cut a CD, singing 14 songs, including Presley favorites such as “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
Survivors also include a daughter, Mandy, and two sons, Robby and Billy, all of Kennesaw.