James Alan “Jim” Thrasher, a motorcoach industry pioneer and member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, died on Nov. 6 at the age of 81.
Jim, Buddy and Joe, known as the Thrasher Brothers, began singing professionally while still boys, appearing in the weekly Gospel Sing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville in 1948. They won the Ted Mack National Talent Show in 1950.
Thrasher Brothers recordings achieved success in the gospel, country and popular music charts. From 1967 to 1976 they produced a syndicated television show, America Sings, that was broadcast in 100 markets with an estimated audience of eight million people weekly.
Their recording of “One Day At A Time” became a gospel music standard that sold one million copies and earned a Gold Record in 1975. Their hit song “Still The One” is a country and pop music standard. Another song, “Best of Friends,” was the theme for the CBS Television program “Simon and Simon” in the 1980s.
The Thrasher Brothers were inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2005 after receiving the Dove Award from the Gospel Music Association and four Grammy Awards from the National Arts and Recording Science Academy.
In 1969, Jim and Joe Thrasher co-founded the Thrasher Brothers motorcoach company in Birmingham, Alabama, which became a pioneer in the entertainer coach service. Jim became the sole owner of the company in 1986.
Mr. Thrasher was the first president of the Alabama Motorcoach Association (AMA) and served on its board of directors for many years.
“Jim was bigger than life to those who knew and loved him,” said Linda Morris, executive director of AMA. “As a founding member of AMA, Jim supported not only the organization and establishment of AMA, but supported the motorcoach industry in Alabama and nationwide. His tremendous wisdom and insight brought AMA through the initial ‘lean’ years as a new association.
“His family-owned business, Thrasher Brothers Trailways in Birmingham, is a testament to his ability to grow a motorcoach company and be involved in the industry enough to bring about benefit to his fellow motorcoach owners, specifically in Alabama, but also to help influence decisions at the national level.”
Mr. Thrasher is survived by his wife, Barbara; children, Alyce Thrasher Davidson and Alan Thrasher, now the owners of Thrasher Brothers Trailways; five grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and brothers Clyde “Buddy” and Joe.
Son Alan, current president of AMA, posted a statement for Mr. Thrasher’s fans and industry friends:
“Last night Jim Thrasher passed on to Heaven to be with Jesus. My father was a man who loved life and lived three men’s worth of lifetimes in his one. He influenced so many people through his spread of the Gospel and in the motorcoach industry. He is one of those giant’s shoulders we stand upon to build our future.
“He sang to the kids before he drifted off. I had a chance to look him in the eye and say thanks for everything. He praised Jesus and thanked God for a blessed life that has come to an end. He died knowing he was loved.”
The family requests that memorial contributions be made to a scholarship fund established in his honor at the Alabama Motorcoach Association,106 Main Street, Brookneal, Virginia, 24528 (the office of Linda Morris).
B. Don Rankin
Don Rankin, 76, publisher of Busline magazine and other publications, passed away on Oct. 25. He was 76.
Mr. Rankin and his wife Linda formed Rankin Publishing in 1977. They published the Arcola (Illinois) Record-Herald newspaper until 2000, when they decided to focus on their trade magazines. Those titles included Maintenance Sales News and Discover Central Illinois. Mrs. Rankin will continue to publish the magazines.
Patricia Diane Walden, vice president of sales at Trailways Transportation System, passed away at her home in Montclair, Virginia, on Oct. 26. She was 82. She also operated WH&L Associates, an association and event management company, in Montclair.