By Bailee Ford
SGA will dedicate their all-school gift this year in memory of Ray Thrasher, alumna and former employee who lived on campus since she arrived as a student nearly 60 years ago.
Affectionately referred to as the “Squirrel Lady” by some students, Thrasher was a near-constant presence on Trevecca’s campus since she enrolled in 1969.
She passed away on Jan. 14.
SGA will propose creating a front porch space at Waggoner Library for student hang out space.
Shelby Morrsion, SGA director of social life, proposed the idea to SGA.
“Ray Thrasher has been a pivotal part of Trevecca’s community and has only ever wanted to see our university succeed,” said Morrison. “I hope this gift tells Ray’s story and paints a picture of future students who were not able to have the privilege of meeting Ray to still learn of her contribution to and love for Trevecca.”
Trasher graduated from Trevecca in 1964 and taught for a few years in Alabama. She then obtained a master’s degree in library science from Peacbody College, which led her to work in Trevecca’s Mackey Library until she retired to Trevecca Towers in 2009 where she lived until May of 2018
When it became evident that the old library location in the Mackey building could not handle the needed technological updates, Thrasher supported the idea of a new building, and worked hard to make that vision a reality.
All that Waggoner Library is now, with updated technology, Wi-Fi, online databases, and circulation resources come from Thrasher’s vision to improve the library resources for the Trevecca community, said Prilla Speer, assistant professor of library and information science and longtime friend and colleague of Thrasher.
“She literally would go head to head with administrators and say, ‘I need you to come look at a library’ so they could see her vision and you guys can enjoy the library you have today. This building is built because she had a passion for it,” Speer said.
Rebekah Davison, library student workers, recalls frequent visits from Thrasher.
“One time, she came in and asked me if I liked working here,” Davidson said. “I told her that I loved my job, and she smiled and said that she got this library built. She was so proud of it.”
Speer said the new building meant a lot more than just a place to house more books. It was the culmination of years of working, planning and dreaming
“She was a woman with passion and vision that changed Trevecca. If God gives you that passion and vision and you act on it, each one of us could be a bit of Ray Thrasher wherever we are. I feel like that’s her legacy,” Speer said.
Outside of her work in the library, Thrasher was a dedicated fan of Trevecca athletics.
“Every sport that’s on campus, she was always at,” said Brenda Patterson, professor of exercise and sports science. “I always tell people that if she ever bled, her blood would be purple. She just absolutely loved Trevecca and athletics. They couldn’t find a better, more consistent fan than Ray was.”
Patterson remembers the distinctive cheer from Thrasher in the stands, and how she would keep score by hand, just to make sure that everything matched up with the scoreboard.
Thrasher was an encouragement to student athletes.
“Many times, when she could see the team buses leaving for away games, she would come and have prayer with them. Those are the extra steps that someone takes that makes them beyond just a fan. She imbedded her life in that athletic program,” Patterson said.
Last year the athletic department hosted ‘Ray Thrasher Day,’ where Thrasher was presented with gifts during halftime of a basketball game and the students and coaches were given the opportunity to thank her for all of her support.
“After everything she’s done, it was really important for everyone to be able to give that back to her,” Patterson said.
As Thrasher got older, she still continued to find community on campus.
“She knew the people and the people knew her. This was a community that loved her, and it showed,” Speer said.
On the day of Ray Thrasher’s funeral, the services ended with a motorcade going through the Trevecca campus one final time, stopping briefly in front of Waggoner library, the building Thrasher dedicated so much of her life to.
“I thought it was such a fitting tribute to her, because she walked this campus and fed the squirrels every day,” Patterson said. “You can’t walk around this campus and not find something that would remind you of her time here.”
Patterson hopes Thrasher’s story continues for future generations of Trevecca students.
“I would like to see some way that we could honor her, either with a plaque, more scholarships, or the Ray Thrasher spirit award to continue her legacy across the campus, especially within the athletic department,” Patterson said.
Speer said Thrasher wanted students to not be afraid to use their gifts.
“I think Ray would tell you to find what you’re best at and do it to the best of your ability. Keep that passion and heart that she exemplified. Don’t just sit on the gifts that God gives you. Use them,” Speer said.