Ivan William Thrasher From Wednesday's Globe and Mail Published Tuesday, Apr. 19, 2011 4:06PM EDT Last updated Tuesday, Apr. 19, 2011 4:46PM ED
Husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, politician, horse breeder, lifelong learner, health fanatic. Born May 21, 1914, in Amherstburg, Ont. Died Jan. 21 in Guelph, Ont., of pneumonia, aged 96.
Ivan Thrasher was a man who lived life to the fullest. He often talked about his journey to 100 and even had a website to document his final years (myjourneyto100.com). Even though he didn’t quite reach his goal, his life had a huge impact on all those around him.
Ivan grew up on a farm near Windsor, Ont., one of eight children of William and Ruby Thrasher. In his early years, he played semi-pro baseball in Quebec and trained hunting dogs in California.
In 1940, Ivan joined the Canadian Army and participated in the Italian campaign, ending up in the Netherlands for the liberation. He returned to Canada in 1945 and married Orpha Miller, with whom he shared 64 years of marriage. Four children followed – Ruby, Ruth, Rose and Jeff.
Ivan started a turkey farming business in Cottam, Ont. Then the family moved to Windsor, where Ivan started a real estate business in 1955. Thrasher Real Estate was a well-known business for many years. Another daughter, Shelley, was born in 1961 and the family was complete.
In 1964, Ivan won a Conservative seat in the Ontario legislature. To this day he remains the last Conservative member from the Windsor area. Although he was defeated after only one term in office, Ivan was a man ahead of his time. He believed in preserving the environment (he planted many trees in public places) and in the importance of physical fitness and health.
His final career was thoroughbred horse racing and breeding. At one time he had more than 40 horses in his stable, Lucky T. Stud. This truly became a passion and a labour of love. At the pinnacle of this chapter in his life, he found himself buying two horses at the sales in Ireland and shipping them back to Canada.
Ivan rode his exercise bike, hung upside down on an inverter machine and did floor exercises every day. Not only did he take care of his body but his thirst for knowledge was unstoppable. He read Plato, Aristotle, Gandhi and Jean Vanier and quoted from Khalil Gibran.
Ivan was also an accomplished self-taught pianist, and he learned how to play the violin when he was in his eighties. Repairing violins and caning chairs were just two of his many hobbies.
A caring man, Ivan regularly called people just to say hello and brighten their days. If he loved a book, he would buy many copies and send them to friends. He retained his intellectual capabilities to the end of his 96 years. His eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild considered him their hero.
Ivan’s wife, children and grandchildren were blessed to have him in their lives for such a long time.